Have an idea for a project or business? Is there a problem you want to solve or an artistic piece you wish to create this summer?
Spend this summer taking your idea to the next level and get the funding to do it. MiddChallenge is here to help you turn your idea into reality.
Applications for Summer 2024 coming soon!
MiddChallenge is accepting proposals in which you explain the inspiration and/or viability of your idea or business in one of the following categories:
- Social Impact and Sustainability
An expert panel of judges made up of alumni, local entrepreneurs, community members and faculty will evaluate the top chosen applications and video pitches. Two projects in each category will be chosen to win.
Winners will receive $4000 per team for the summer project. Students staying at/near Middlebury may be able to take advantage of office space in Old Stone Mill and Elizabeth Hackett Robinson ’84 Innovation Hub mentoring. If you are interested in staying in Vermont while working on your project, please indicate this in your application as we vet housing availability. Otherwise, projects can take place anywhere in the world.
MiddChallenge winners will have frequent communication with the Innovation Hub over the summer, reporting their accomplishments, problems, and future plans monthly through the end of August.
Unfortunately, we cannot award grants to graduating seniors. All other Middlebury undergraduate students are eligible.
Projects taking place outside of the United States must be approved by the Global Operations team. Visit their website for information about how to apply for approval.
Application support and resources:
- We recommend practicing pitches (whether in person or virtual) with coaches from Oratory Now. If you wish to receive coaching, please submit a request at go/speak to receive feedback on your oral presentation.
- We strongly encourage interested students to schedule advising appointments with a member of the Innovation Hub team in order to craft the strongest application and learn about other resources that might be relevant to their project. You can schedule an advising session with Heather Lovejoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dana Anderson (email@example.com).
- Virtual Business advising sessions with Sarah Kearns, from the Small Business Development Center are also available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call.
Meet a few of our judges, past and present. Thank you all!
Andy Rossmeissl ‘05
Andy leads Faraday in its mission to empower all brands with consumer predictions at scale. A designer by training and lifelong software engineer, Andy is responsible for Faraday’s product strategy, data science organization, and corporate matters. Before co-founding Faraday in 2012, Andy founded Brighter Planet, the celebrated enterprise sustainability platform, where he began his 16-year obsession with creating value from data.
Duna Tatour ‘12
Duna Tatour is a marketer and storyteller with a passion for educational media and educational technology. Currently, she works at the Worldwide Education Marketing team at Apple. Prior, she worked in higher-education marketing for several years before founding her own creative marketing agency that took on a range of clients including the UN, WHO, and PBS Learning. She earned her Master’s in Technology, Innovation, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her BA from Middlebury College.
Elizabeth Robinson ‘84
Elizabeth retired last year as Associate Dean for Student Creativity, Engagement, and Careers at Middlebury. What she misses most in her former role is encouraging and supporting students in their creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. After receiving her masters at UPenn, Elizabeth went on to work in politics, banking, education, and the non-profit world. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies and HOPE.
Nick currently serves as Director of Analytics at Unite Us (a healthcare technology company). Before this Nick was CEO and co-founder of a startup called Staple Health (acquired by Unite Us March 2020).
Phoebe Lo is the Director of Operations and Culture at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), a founding host of the Vermont Startup Collective, and the artist behind Golden Our Studio, amplifying brands through illustration, graphic design and custom murals. She enjoys collaborating locally, making community partnerships, and working on purpose-driven projects requiring creativity!
Naila Jahan ‘15
Naila’s career has been focused on helping entrepreneurs win, from the hyper-local level in Vermont, to the global level, in markets like Mexico, India, Switzerland, and Israel. Naila currently works at MassChallenge, a global startup accelerator operating on a no-equity model, where she is the Director of Strategic Initiatives. She has been with MassChallenge for 5 years in a variety of functions, including operations, business development, consulting, special projects, and strategic planning.
Ashley Betton is the CEO of Lacewing Productions, a production company that focuses on education and entertainment through the arts. Ashley is also the Co-Director of Find Your Wings, a community led public art project in Middlebury, Vermont.
Lucy Scott ‘16
Lucy’s background is in entrepreneurship education and program design - she started her career at Midd’s Innovation Hub and and helped to run things like this competition. From Midd, she moved on to work at the African Leadership University in Mauritius, where she helped to set up their student entrepreneurship program, working closely with young entrepreneurs in helping them to develop and launch their business ideas. She is now the Entrepreneurship Program Manager at ALU’s sister organization, ALX, where she and her team are designing the entrepreneurship pathway for young African leaders with promising business ideas. Although she is loving her time with the Africana Leadership Group, Lucy is looking to pursue impact, early-stage VC (and maybe eventually to start her own social enterprise), so will be leaving ALG in July to start her MBA at MIT Sloan.
Minna Brown ‘07
Minna returned to Middlebury to serve as Project Director for the newly-launched Climate Action Capacity Project, which seeks to provide students with the knowledge, motivation, and capacity to tackle the climate crisis from a wide variety of fields and perspectives. Over the last decade, she has led the design and implementation of new programs for various organizations, all focused on collaboration and impact. She served as the Director of Academic Affairs and Case Study Integration Manager at the Yale School of the Environment. Before Yale, she developed comprehensive client engagement and marketing strategies for a web development company and managed national nonprofit outreach plans for a climate change advocacy organization. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Middlebury and a Master of Environmental Management (M.E.M.) from the Yale School of the Environment.
Since 2013, Kelly has been the Owner and Designer at edie&glo, a textile upcycled clothing business serving as a platform for education in reduce, reuse, recycle. Since 2019, she has been serving as Creative Director of Bundle, a creative pop-up concept using empty storefront to encourage economic revitalization in downtown Middlebury. Kelly is also currently volunteering at the Community Outreach Coordinator of Find Your Wings Vermont.
Jim Robinson ‘84
Jim Robinson has been living in Weybridge Vermont since 1994, but is a frequent business traveler to New York and abroad as few of his ventures have been in Vermont. He is an entrepreneur focused on the financial services sector which is highly levered to sweat, smarts and structure. Currently, he is principally focused on a reinsurance platform built in Bermuda and aimed at transforming the casualty reinsurance business – largely a structured finance and market development model. Jim feels fortunate to have played a broad range of roles in start-ups and early stage companies from founder to advisor to angel investor to placement agent. He is always active and has played Board roles in many instances. Jim has worked with a number of world class entrepreneurs over the years from whom he has learned a lot.