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.
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. Due to limitations imposed by social distancing policies, in 2021 the competition involves students submitting a 4-minute pitch video of their idea.
Winners receive between $1500- $3,000 for the summer project. Students may be able to take advantage of office space in Old Stone Mill and Innovation Hub mentoring.
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. A final report will be due on September 1, 2021.
Middlebury undergraduate students are eligible (including graduating seniors).
Summer 2021 Selection Process
Application due date:
Funding will be awarded provisionally until we know if there are changes from COVID-19 that will impact entrepreneurial ventures domestically and internationally.
Pitch Video Submission
Since we will not have an in-person competition this year, applicants must now submit a 4-minute video pitch of their idea in the application form here. Your pitch should be a 4-minute compelling presentation of what your idea is, why it is important and why you are the best person/people to implement it. Oratory Now coaches are available to help you craft a winning pitch. We highly encourage you to sign up for a coaching session or to share your pitch video with them by March 29 to receive feedback ahead of the application deadline.
Application support and resources:
- Pitch Video review and advising with Oratory Now, please submit a request at go/speak by noon on Monday March 29 for a zoom coaching session or Video Annotations to receive feedback on your oral presentation.
- Virtual Application advising session with Heather Lovejoy ‘08 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coronavirus update: As you know, the world-wide situation is still fluid due to the on-going pandemic and new variants.
The Innovation Hub will follow all policies outlined by Middlebury College which is responding to an ever-changing situation. Funding may need to be rescinded if situations worsen.
Students who apply for and receive Middlebury funding (e.g., from the Innovation Hub, Center for Careers and Internships, Undergraduate Research Office, Center for Community Engagement, etc.) for internships, research, community service, and other experiential opportunities may travel over the 2021 summer break but only within the United States. International students who receive such funding may travel only within the United States or their country of residence. All students must comply with applicable CDC, state, local, country of residence, and College-related COVID-19 health and safety restrictions.
For the latest updates on this evolving situation, please see the Campus Status webpage.
Thank you to this year's Judges!
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 my 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 . Elizabeth worked in politics, banking, education (she received a Master’s Degree from UPenn) and the non-profit world. Elizabeth 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, Middlebury 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
I have been living in Weybridge Vermont since 1994, but am a frequent business traveler to New York and abroad as few of my ventures have been in Vermont. I am an entrepreneur focused on the financial services sector which is highly levered to sweat, smarts and structure. Currently, I am principally focused on a reinsurance platform we have built in Bermuda aimed at transforming the casualty reinsurance business – largely a structured finance and market development model. I have been 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. I am always active and have played Board roles in many instances. I have been lucky enough to work with a number of world class entrepreneurs over the years from whom I have learned a lot.