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The Innovation Challenge

The Innovation Challenge at Manhattan College is hosted every year in March by the O’Malley School of Business.

Innovation Challenge collage of students and faculty.

Thinking about being an entrepreneur. Thinking about building your idea into a business. Want the experience of being on a startup team.  This is for you!

Pitch Presentation to Dean Don Gibson & Winston Peters: February 7, 2023 

Application Deadline: February 15, 2023 11:59 PM

Semifinals: March 1-2, 2023

Final Competition: March 21, 2023

The Innovation Challenge encourages students to creatively generate an idea for an exciting and practical product or service. The competition is open to Manhattan College students of all academic disciplines, who are encouraged to team up with each other if doing so enhances their innovation. (For example, engineers may team up with business students to help with the business plan for their inventions.) 


Complete this form to show your interest in the 2023 Innovation Challenge. This form is required and opens on November 2, 2022. 


Entry Form: February 15, 2023

Fill out the Innovation Challenge entry to sign up for the 2023 Innovation Challenge. 

This form must be filled out by every group entering the 2023 Innovation Challenge. Only one member from each team should fill out this form, which must be completed and submitted by February 15, 2023, to be eligible for entry in this year’s competition.


  • Awards
    • To help fund your startup, the total cash to be awarded in the 2023 Challenge is $10,000.00. Coordinators and judges will determine the amount to be divided among the winning teams.
  • Team Requirements
    • Teams will consist of 1-4 undergraduate students from Manhattan College
    • The competition is open to all Manhattan College students. Students are encouraged to team up with students studying other majors.
    • Entries may be submitted by teams of no more than four students.  Submissions by individuals are also welcomed.
  • Submission Guidelines
    • The Innovation Challenge entries must be submitted through the google form link in the Registration section. 
    • Make sure that your entry represents an innovative yet practical idea.  The winning ideas will have judges react by “Why didn’t I think of that?”  
    • Make sure that your narrative is well organized, well written, and addresses all the key points above
    • If possible, back up your claims with research.
  • Competition Rules
    • A percentage of the entries submitted will be selected to prepare a presentation on and model/example of their innovation.
    • The competitors should be able to answer questions from Expert
      Entrepreneurship Judges.  
    • The presentations may be modeled after the TV show Shark Tank, and must include a business plan and budget for the innovation.
    • All presentations must be submitted in powerpoint.
  • Judging

    The judges for 2023 will be determined at a later date. The innovation challenge brings on talented, accomplished business professionals as judges every year. Last year's judges for the 2022 Innovation challenge included: 

    Samiul Amin 

    Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering
    Dr. Amin joined Manhattan College in Fall 2017. He has worked in industry for the past 20+ years in a range of different industrial sectors including petrochemicals, cosmetics, consumer goods and scientific instrumentation with senior level Engineering, R&D and Innovation Management roles at ExxonMobil, L'Oreal, Unilever and Malvern Instruments in Asia, Europe and the US. Dr. Amin has significant expertise in implementation of Open Innovation in global R&D organizations and research interests spanning complex fluids, smart materials,  rheology/microrheology/tribology, advanced characterization, and cosmetic & biopharmaceutical formulation design.
    Vincent Buffa ‘86 

    CEO & Chairman, Micross Components, Operating Partner, Behman Capital
    Mr. Buffa joined Behrman Capital in May 2018 and is also a Director of kSARIA Corporation. He received his BEEE degree from Manhattan College and has an MBA in Finance from Hofstra. He was most recently President and CEO of Hunter Defense Technology (HDT Global)  a former Behrman Capital portfolio company currently held by Charlesbank Capital Partners and is now  engaged in a divestiture transaction  launched  by Mr. Buffa. Earlier  Vincent was the President and CEO of Data Device Corporation (DDC) – also a  former Behrman portfolio company which was successfully transacted in a $1 billion sale in 2016.   Prior to joining DDC, Mr. Buffa was President of Crane Energy Flow Solutions, a global manufacturer of specialty and custom valve products for the industrial, power, and oil & gas markets that he repositioned to serve a global customer base. Earlier in his career, Mr. Buffa held a series of positions at Honeywell International, and led manufacturing operations for Smiths Aerospace’s (now Transdigm Group) actuation business and aftermarket services unit.
    Samhita A. P. Jayanti

    Samhita Jayanti is an entrepreneur, business leader, and non-profit trustee with a passion for equity in health care, education and entrepreneurship. Samhita is the Founder and CEO of entrepreneurship-focused startup Ideamix ( She is also the host of the popular Ideamix Radio podcast. Before founding Ideamix in 2018, Samhita held leadership roles in technology and corporate risk consulting. She attended Harvard College (A.B.) and Harvard Business School (MBA). Sam serves as a board member of Americares, on the Board of Regents of St Benet’s Hall at Oxford University, and on the Leadership Council of the Radcliffe Institute. In her spare time, Sam loves playing tennis and skiing, and spending time with her family and 2 dogs.
    Mike Kelly ‘80 

    The Managing Partner of Yellow Thread Ventures, which funds early-stage and other growth-oriented companies. He graduated with a BS in Business from MC in 1980. He founded On Call International in 1995, a leading provider of medical, security and travel assistance. On Call was named to the INC 5,000 Fastest Growing Private Companies List each year from 2012-2016 with a compounded annual growth rate of 48%. In 2016 Mike sold the company to the Tokio Marine Insurance Company, the 7th largest property casualty insurance company. Mike is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Owners Presidents and Managers program. 

    Frank Pietrantonio ‘80 

    Senior Counsel at Cooley, LLC, specializing in Intellectual Property and Patents. Frank graduated from Manhattan in 1980, BS in Electrical Engineering. After working briefly at Bell Laboratories, and earning his Master’s Degree in EE, Frank attended law school at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Over the course of his career as a patent attorney, Frank has helped many inventors secure patent protection and enforce those rights in court. Since 2000 he has been at Cooley, LLP counseling entrepreneurs and startups on IP issues.
    Julia Sutton ‘90

    Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Exhale Enterprises
    Julia Sutton is the COO and Co-founder of Exhale, a wellbeing destination with locations across the United States, offering award-winning boutique fitness classes and spa therapies curated to help people meet their health goals. A veteran of the fitness, spa, and wellness industry, Julia’s firm was recently purchased by Hyatt. Julia completed the OPM program at Harvard Business School and is a member of the COO network, American College of Sports Medicine and HBS Club of New York. She graduated from Manhattan College in 1990 with a BS in Marketing. She joined the O’Malley School of Business Advisory Board in 2019.