A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but to DePaul University students, an idea can be worth $1,000—or more. Young entrepreneurs earned a share of $16,000 in scholarships for presenting their innovative ideas at the third annual Chicago Student Innovation Awards. 


“We are so impressed and proud of our students’ creativity and interest in solving challenging problems,” says Lisa Gundry, director of DePaul’s
Center for Creativity and Innovation (CCI). The center hosted the Feb. 28 event with co-sponsors ColemanEntrepreneurship Center​, Chicago Innovation Awards Foundation and TCF Inventory Finance.

The winning students pitched their ideas to an audience of 300 people and were judged by members of the Chicago innovation community and DePaul alumni. In addition to student performances, attendees also enjoyed a panel discussion with local innovators and entrepreneurs.

This year’s competition drew a record number of nominations, with more than 80 students or student teams submitting innovative ideas. “The number and quality of applications we received this year has been outstanding and surpassed all my expectations,” says Javier Monllor, assistant professor of management.

The student winners are:

  • Gold level ($5,000): George Sobolevskiy, a business major, for his self-powering electrochemical water detector that alerts homeowners of water leaks.
  • Silver level ($2,500 each): Christopher Fanucchi, Driehaus College of Business, for his “Car Roulette,” which lets car buyers experience a variety of makes and models of vehicles when purchasing new cars. Paul Nordlund, Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, for “Inflightables,” inflatable infant seats for airline flights.
  • Bronze level ($1,000 each): Six students earned the bronze-level award. Their ideas included a mobile app for interacting with DePaul student clubs, a video entertainment database, an aquaponics farming system and more.

See a full list of the winners and read more about the awards.