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Award Competition Sparks Student Innovations

Alyssa Nagy
Alyssa Nagy

Alyssa Nagy noticed a need in the marketplace when her grandmother, Clara, became sick with pneumonia and required nursing services at home. Nagy, who works full-time and is going to DePaul University for her MBA, noticed the toll that taking care of her grandmother was having on her mother. In a society where people can order taxi services, food delivery and even childcare from an app, Nagy wondered why there wasn’t an app for elder care. 

“With the aging Baby Boomer population, the need for elder care is going to shift substantially onto family members,” says Nagy. “Not everyone is going to have the financial backing or skills to provide adequate care. As the health of the elderly deteriorates, you are going to need more skilled nursing.”

Nagy developed an idea for an app called ClaraCare (named after her grandmother) that allows the user to select a certified nursing assistant or a registered nurse to provide nursing assistance to an elder. The user selects the nurse and the hours required. Nagy notes that the only competition out there for ClaraCare is a companion app that helps the elderly with errands and companionship, but nothing that provides qualified nurses. 

Nagy took her idea and entered it into DePaul’s Seventh Annual Student Innovation Awards and won.

The Student Innovation Awards, hosted by DePaul’s Center for Innovation, recognizes students' creativity and originality, while helping students develop the ability to solve problems and discover new opportunities. This year's theme was product and service innovation. Students were challenged to invent new products or services, or improve an existing product or service, while creating new value for customers or users. The six winners were selected by a group of judges from the Chicago business community.

“This year we had the largest number of submissions from across the university,” says Management Professor Lisa Gundry, director of the Center for Innovation. “This demonstrates that our students are thinking about ways to solve problems, and what the next big idea might be in various industries. The quality this year was very strong, and the ideas have great promise.”

Nagy thought that the Innovation Awards were a great opportunity to showcase needs within a marketplace, refine an innovative idea, present a product to an audience of students and judges, and to network within the startup community. 

“One of the most rewarding parts of the event was answering questions from the other students,” says Nagy. “I was able to prove that ClaraCare did have a space in the marketplace and that it was a fully formed and innovative product.”

Nagy would like to bring ClaraCare to the market, but plans on putting her efforts first into graduating this summer. After she earned her MBA from DePaul, she would like to fully flesh out her ideas and continue to discuss the next steps of ClaraCare with the contacts she made from the competition.

Here is the complete list of 2017 Student Innovation Awards winners and their products or services:

Savoy Corona, Smartbox
Jake Gice, Flexroll
Oleh Mykolyshyn, Right Job
Alyssa Nagy, Clara Care
Ayet Ujwok, Four-in-one-Card
Patrick Zieba, Automotive Tire Valve System

Student Innovation Awards Photo Gallery