Busy Box Takes Grand Prize in Innovation in Action Public Health Showcase

Busy Box team with with their $10,000 awardA student-developed subscription service that promotes safe sex took grand prize in the 2018 Innovation in Action Final Showcase held on March 8, 2018. Busy Box offers high-quality safe sex supplies and educational resources that are personalized to the customer’s needs and delivered to their door. The team is made up of Kayla Carter, School of Public Health; Monica Smolinski, School of Public Health; Alison Elgass, LSA; and Sarah Mason, College of Education.  

Innovation in Action: Solutions to Real-World Challenges is a five-month, university-wide challenge led by the University of Michigan School of Public Health that stimulates innovative, collaborative undergraduate and graduate students to address real-world problems.

Busy Box was among 11 teams to participate in this year’s Innovation in Action public health competition and was selected as one of five teams to compete in the Final Showcase.

A panel of expert judges selected Busy Box to receive the $10,000 grand prize. First Five Med, a service that trains everyday people to save a life in a medical emergency, received the $7,500 second prize, and hEARt, a mobile app that uses chat therapy to improve mental health on college campuses, received the $5,000 third prize. Busy Box and hEARt each received a $1,000 audience choice award.

Innovation in Action starts in September, with information and team formation sessions, which include speed networking to help students find other students who are passionate about the same things, says Ann Verhey-Henke, managing director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship at the School of Public Health.

From October through February, the student teams participate in learning modules and workshops that walk them through the innovation process and provide them with an innovation toolkit. Finally, they pitch their ideas to panel of judges made up of leaders from various industries.

“We want students to slowly and thoughtfully discover a problem and create a solution,” Verhey-Henke says. “The goal is not for students to become entrepreneurs—although some do. The tools they learn through this process can be used in any walk of life, and our hope is that innovation becomes part of their DNA.”