The energy and excitement of almost 400 teens and parents from around the world was palpable at the Diamond Challenge Summit on April 23-25, 2023. The Summit, a three day conference celebrating entrepreneurial high school students, featured workshops, panel discussions, innovation sprints, and networking opportunities to connect, inspire, and build a community of aspiring young entrepreneurs.
The Summit also marked the culmination of the Diamond Challenge’s year-long entrepreneurship competition, in which students develop solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges for a chance to engage and network with a global community of entrepreneurs and to compete for awards and monetary prizes. This year’s participants numbered 1,609 teens and comprised 559 teams representing 39 countries and 30 states. Sixty-three finalist teams participated in the final rounds at the Summit, 55 in-person and 8 virtually.
A full list of the 2023 Diamond Challenge Summit finalist teams and team descriptions can be found here. Each team was awarded money to be used as venture funding or scholarship to a higher education institution.
The winners of the Social Innovation Track included:
- 1st Place - $12,000: El-sol – USA (California) and Japan – Aoife Brett, Mika Kato, Smriti Rangarajan, Amy Zheng, Emanita Alatini (Adult Advisor) – El-sol is a non-contact autonomous solar panel cleaner driven by electrostatic biasing.
- 2nd Place - $ 8,500: Algae Air – USA (Illinois) – Aarin Bothra, Jensen Coonradt, Denise Gutierrez, Laurel Coonradt (Adult Advisor) –Automated Spirulina micro-algae photobioreactor to combat air pollution.
- 3rd Place - $4,000: Alzmirror – China – Youyou Li, YiFei Zhou, Fei Wu (Adult Advisor) – A virtual reality headset personalized and effective in promoting elder’s mental optimism and clarity.
The winners of the Business Innovation Track included:
- 1st Place - $12,000: Omnicore Technologies – USA (Arizona) – Kevin Li, Alexander Huang, Maria Gonzalez, Alexis Li, Yuxuan Lin (Adult Advisor) - A cheap 3D printable prosthetic arm with a innovative 3DOF wrist mechanism
- 2nd Place - $ 8,500: FutureX - Australia – Alexander Ho, Siddharth Shasidharan, Shasidharan CSP (Adult Advisor) – Introducing TROVE ACRES, world’s first data-driven distributed local farming platform that transforms anyone with a piece of land into a successful backyard farmer, enabling local production and consumption at scale.
- 3rd Place - $4,000: Benchwarmer – USA (Missouri) – Evan Kamat, Hans Kamat, Vinay Kamat (Adult Advisor) – A battery operated portable team seat heater.
The Topical Prize Awards recognize Diamond Challenge finalist teams that have shown significant promise and excellence in a particular field of entrepreneurial capacity. All Topical Prize Awards are sponsored by innovative companies investing in the next generation, and each award is accompanied by a $1,500 cash prize.
The Delaware Solid Waste Authority Waste & Recycling Innovation Prize is awarded to the teams who develop an advancement in the waste or recycling industry that fosters sustainability within both the community and the environment.
- Business Innovation: Algalrhythms - Thailand - Pranungwad Kiatkajitmun, Piraya Manopinives, Piangpis Chatwiriyachai (Adult Advisor)
- Social Innovation: The Anchor - Thailand - Pornwarin Boondoungprasert, Sirinda Pasawongse, Thanadol Wangwijit, Sultan Zahid, Kriangkrai Wangwijit (Adult Advisor)
The Gore Innovation Excellence Prize is awarded to the teams who best represent the application of technology to improving lives.
- Business Innovation: M.P.S. (Medical Protective Systems) - USA (Georgia) - Nithin Reddy, Mannan Singh, Annie Singh (Adult Advisor)
- Social Innovation: Oculo - USA (Georgia) - Taylor Petrofski, Vineeth Sendilraj, Justin Wang, Jason Petrofski (Adult Advisor)
The Horn Entrepreneurship Equity Thru Entrepreneurship Prize is awarded to a Social Innovation team with the greatest potential to advance social justice and equal opportunity. The winner of this award is:
- GenAlt - USA (California) - Snehil Kakani, Anish Lakkapragada, Pranav Virupaksha, Kanchan Nikumbh (Adult Advisor)
The Global Innovation Prize, powered by Horn Entrepreneurship, recognizes the top global teams that demonstrate entrepreneurship excellence and embody the true spirit of the Diamond Challenge. The winners of this award were:
- Business Innovation: Netra - India - Arshroop Saini, Ansh Tiwari, Vandana Murjani (Adult Advisor)
- Social Innovation: Herewe - Guatemala - Diana Flores, Gloria Fuentes, Cinthya Payes (Adult Advisor)
In addition to the competition rounds, the Summit featured workshops, panel discussions with young entrepreneurs and innovation sprints. On the first day, the teens learned about networking through two workshops - one focused on using leadership skills to engage others, presented by Nat Measley, University of Delaware, and Sanjana Medisetty, student at Newark Charter School, and one focused on building a community of entrepreneurially minded students by Brian Helfman, Founder & Chief Experience Officer, Third Nature. Following the workshops, guests participated in a networking reception and welcome dinner in which they connected with each other.
The next day featured workshops in addition to the pitch rounds. Courtney Mainwaring, Columbia University, presented a workshop on mindfulness and using contemplative practices to build emotional awareness, recharge. Storytelling was the theme of the workshop by Dr. Laura Gasiorowki, University of Delaware. Dr. Gasiorowki’s session coached teens on how to use their stories to gain customers and stakeholder buy-in.
The final day bustled with activity. Three innovation sprints offered teens the opportunity to showcase their problem solving skills: Megatrends sponsored by W. L. Gore & Associates and led by Steven Aubuchon, Market & Business Development at Gore; Recycled Materials sponsored by Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) and led by Sarah Culler, Senior Manager of Education & Outreach at DSWA; and #smallwinsarebigwins led by Chris Aviles, Founder and President, Garden State Esports. Christine Fischer presented a workshop on design thinking focused on the early stages of the creative process. The day also featured two panel discussions. The first focused on the college experience with University of Delaware students and alumni Emilie Delaye (BS’24 Entrepreneurship), Carlos Benito (BS’23 Biological Sciences), Garrison Davis (BS’18 Organization & Community Leadership and MS’22 International Business) and moderated by Howard High School student Keith Jackson. The second panel was Investor Insights and featured venture capitalists and angel investors. Moderated by Perkiomen student Shae Leach, the panelists included Dave Liss, Delaware Idea Club Investments; Ben Jen, 1435 Capital; Mark Crawford, Stanley Ventures; and Renata Kowlczuk, Pipeline Angels.
Each day featured keynote speakers with inspirational stories of the problems they are addressing and how they founded their ventures. Horn Entrepreneurship and Diamond Challenge extends a special thanks to keynote speakers Dr. Cole Galloway, founder of GoBabyGo; Margarita Womack, founder & CEO of Latin Goodness Foods; and Garry Johnson, III, founder & CEO of Bison Venture Partners.
Horn Entrepreneurship is grateful for the help of more than 450 judges who completed preliminary judgements and provided meaningful feedback for students from February through April during the Diamond Challenge qualifying rounds. A special thanks goes to the Summit judges: Jeff Aziakou, Alysse Bortolotto, Jennifer Brown, Fatimah Conley, Perry Corda, Katrina Cotter, Sarah Culler, Barb DeHaven, Adam Foley, Amy Greenwald Foley, Chris Griffith, Maria Gunther, Stephen Hoops, Ben Jen, Linda Jennings, Andrew Jordan, Ayanna Khan, Mitch Kick, Sheryl Kline, Bryn Kolmansberger, Steve Linberg, Dave Liss, Scott Malfitano, Ali Manan, Don Manekin, Amanda Menasion, County Executive Matt Meyer, Jo Norris, Fred Phillips, Greg Plum, Myles Powell, Mayor Mike Purzycki, Robin Roddy, Jennifer Rowland, Robert Sassa, Jocelyn Stewart, Bernardo Tiburcio, Karen Toronto, Raj Venkateswaran, Amy Walls, Matt Walz, Chris West, and Ye Zhang.
The Diamond Challenge is made possible with the support of our sponsors: DSWA, W. L. Gore & Associates, CSC, The Siegfried Group, CapitalOne, and 1435 Capital. The Diamond Challenge is also grateful for the generous support of the Paul & Linda McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative. And finally thanks to all participants, advisors, partners and finalists for making the Diamond Challenge an unforgettable experience!
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement at the University of Delaware. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship was built and is actively supported by successful entrepreneurs, empowering aspiring innovators as they pursue new ideas for a better world.
At its founding in 2012, Horn Entrepreneurship launched a youth initiative to address major gaps in secondary entrepreneurship education. At the time, most existing youth programs focused on small business management. In contrast, Horn Youth has been built to focus on unleashing creativity, encouraging a mindset of abundance and self-determination, and promoting purposeful entrepreneurial action. Today, Horn Youth is internationally recognized and has a robust local and global ecosystem and a network consisting of more than 20,000 alumni, 1800 educators, and 60 organizations that catalyze entrepreneurship education and impact.