Collaborators launch contest

OpenGrounds, Vonage competition requests social messaging ideas, offers $25,000 prize money


University students hoping to voice their ideas about the future of social messaging will now be able to, thanks to a partnership unveiled Monday night between the University’s OpenGrounds initiative and national communications company Vonage. OpenGrounds aims to bring together thinkers and researchers in a studio space on the Corner.

The competition asks students to pitch their ideas about the next generation of social messaging. The top three ideas will share the $25,000 prize money to implement their ideas with Vonage’s help.

“It allows Vonage to tap into the collective knowledge that we have in the University,” said Assoc. Architecture Prof. Bill Sherman, the director of OpenGrounds.

The announcement of the winners is not the end, though. The winners will have to commercialize their ideas as part of the competition, said Marc Lefar, the company’s chief executive officer.

“I’m hopeful that we will see things that include ways to interface, that we might see hardware, that we might hear and see ideas that go beyond basic general social messaging,” Lefar said. Third-year Commerce student Lance Guthrie said he would probably participate but that he had not heard very much about the competition beforehand.

OpenGrounds will announce the contest’s finalists at the end of November. First, second and third place winners will be awarded $15,000, $7,000 and $3,000 respectively to fund their ideas.

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