Robotics researches at the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) Lab in partnership with the Wharton School’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management have flipped the traditional invention competition by asking students to design novel applications for specific robotics technologies. The Y-Prize competition fosters innovation by focusing on the problem space instead of the solution space.  Contestants are judged on how innovative their application is for a specific robotics technology and if their application can be turned into a profitable business. The focal technologies are Dr. Vijay Kumar’s aerial robotics, Dr. Mark Yim’s modular robotics and Dr. Daniel Koditschek’s RHex robotics platform.

2012-2013 Y-Prize
Y-Prize AwardsThe inaugural Y-Prize competition drew over 300 students, faculty and staff to address innovation in robotics. The students developed an appreciation for the underlying intellectual property and opportunities for commercializing the technology.  The winning student team, led by a mechanical engineering sophomore, an electrical engineering senior and a MBA student received $5000 and a non-exclusive license to the robotics technology. The team, IDENTIFIED, proposed the use of quadrotors for IED detection. IDENTIFIED has now formed a new company and has been able to build demonstration prototypes with the help of faculty, students and administrators.

Participate in the 2013-2014 Y-Prize!
In 2013, the contest has gone global through a partnership with the crowdsourcing idea platform Marblar. In the first phase of the competition, participants are asked to submit novel application ideas through the Marblar website. In the second phase of the competition, Penn students will form teams around ideas on Marblar or new ideas and compete for a chance to win $5,000 and the opportunity to pitch their idea to IP Group.

For more information and event updates, please visit the Y-Prize website.

The 2013-2014 Y-Prize competition is cosponsored by the Mack Institute, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Center for Technology Transfer and IP Group. The competition is supported in part by funding from the National Science Foundation.