Amy Rees Anderson

An Idea That Inspires People Can Shape The Course of History

“Ideas shape the course of history.” – John Maynard Keyes

Tonight I will be judging a business competition called “Bench 2 Bedside”. This is an annual business competition put together by the University of Utah where student teams are formed that consist of medical students, engineering students, and business students who come together to create amazing new innovations in the medical device and healthcare technology arenas. Each team is given access to over 100 University physicians who are available to give advice and assistance.  Going into tonight’s competition, each team has had a period of six months and $500.00 of funding to develop their concepts. Then tonight they will all pitch their concepts to a group of judges. The event draws in industry leading healthcare companies and venture capital firms who all have an interest in the ideas that have been developed. By the end of the night over $70,000 of prizes will be awarded to the top teams to give them additional funding and support.

This competition was developed by the University of Utah’s Center for Medical Innovation, which is one of the Boards I serve on, and over the last few years it has grown to be a really tremendous program. I love the way it brings together students from the different disciplines to work with one another. Too often in Universities the students stay silo’d into their own area of focus, such as engineering or business or law etc. and they don’t form networks with the students in the other disciplines. Yet someday when they leave the Universities and go out into the world to have careers or become entrepreneurs they would benefit tremendously from having these relationships with students from other disciplines that they can leverage when needing to hire an executive team or when they seek to input and advice for various ventures. Bringing them together to work with each other on business ideas during their student years is a great way to get them out of their silo and forming relationships across campus and it also helps them gain an appreciation for the skillsets each discipline brings to the table.

I really think every University should have programs and business competitions on their campus that bring multiple disciplines together to work on generating and launching ideas of every kind. When brilliant minds come together and work side by side they can create amazing innovations that truly can change the world.

The energy and excitement that the students have as they present is going to make all the difference tonight. I’ve seen great ideas bomb because the people pitching didn’t present the idea with enthusiasm, and I’ve seen so-so ideas that have done incredibly well because the people pitching were able to do so with passion and excitement that drew the crowd in to want their idea to be a success.

“A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” – Unknown

My advice to those who are presenting their ideas in any forum is this: Always present your ideas with enthusiasm! If you are excited about it then your audience will be excited about it. Always let people FEEL how much you believe and care about the idea and let them feel your passion for making it come to life as a business. All the technical expertise in the world will be for naught if you can’t get people to FEEL something for your idea. You’ve got your creation so now it’s your job to INSPIRE!

~Amy Rees Anderson

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