Ideas win big at virtual UAF Arctic Innovation Competition

Andrea Miller
April 20, 2022

The University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Business and Security Management awarded over $40,000 in cash prizes and awards after the 2022 Arctic Innovation Competition’s final presentations Saturday, April 16.

The competition, now in its 13th year, invites innovators to propose new, feasible and potentially profitable ideas for solving real-life problems and challenges.

The top prize of $10,000 in the main division, for ages 18 and up, was awarded to Zak Erving and Phil Belleau for their idea, “Prismatext: Read a Book. Learn a Language.” Prismatext uses a new process to create blended language books that gradually expose the reader to foreign words and phrases to support language learning. 

“In addition to adding new features to our mobile app, we’re in the process of building relationships with publishers so we can add thousands of contemporary titles to our bookshelves,” said Erving, CEO of Prismatext. “We’re also building tools that we hope will revitalize the education and preservation of Indigenous languages of cultural importance.” 

In the junior division, for youth ages 13 to 17 years old, the $1,000 first-place prize was awarded for the No Snow Machine, submitted by Joanna Joo, Phoebe Xu, Hannah Chang and Grace Li. Designed to safely and efficiently remove snow from roofs, No Snow “vacuums” the snow from the roof through a pipe onto the back of a truck, without the hassle of shoveling it away. 

In the cub division for youth ages 12 and under, the first-place prize and $500 went to the Gadget Girls for their idea, Cluck Box. Lauren Burgess, Shannan Burgess, Charlie Clark, Leah Lewellyn and Alex Lorenzana — an all-girl team — improved the design of current chick-shipping boxes to help keep chicks safe, warm and fed during longer periods of time. 

“Being from Alaska, I wanted to be part of a community that fosters creativity and innovation in my home state,” Erving shared. “I think it’s important to highlight homegrown achievements, and AIC is a wonderful resource that highlights new ideas in the Last Frontier.”

Top prize and honorable mention winners in the three divisions came from communities across Alaska — Anchorage, Copper Center, Fairbanks, Juneau, North Pole and Wasilla — as well as from Pennsylvania and Washington. A complete list of winners is available on the AIC website.

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