News Releases
“March Madness for the Mind” Is Now “Open Minds”
November 12, 2010

Congratulations to our friends at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) on the new name for their annual showcase, "Open Minds: Showcasing the NCIIA's Best Student Teams.


Hadley, MA—November 11, 2010—More than a decade after debuting its annual March Madness for the Mind event—which each year features some of the nation’s top student technology entrepreneurs and inventors—the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) is changing the name of the event to “Open Minds: Showcasing the NCIIA’s Best Student Teams.”

The new name reflects the maturation of the program, said NCIIA Executive Director Phil Weilerstein. “We wanted to keep the word ‘Mind’ in the title as a nod to the old name, and bring in the word ’Open,’ because it’s the name of our annual conference,” he said. “‘Open’ is a call to action. Open your mind and witness what feats university students can accomplish.”

The NCIIA’s annual student exhibition is a one-day celebration of innovation following NCIIA mentoring and training about prototype development and enterprise building. Teams submit their applications every fall with the hope of being invited to the event, where the general public, media and sometimes investors, are present. Selected teams also submit videos about their innovations, which are judged by the public. The winning video earns its team $1,000.

“We believe that the prototypes developed and displayed by students at Open Minds —ranging in focus from clean energy technologies to green materials to biomedical devices—will be commercialized,” said Weilerstein. “We’re proud to have played a role in their progress.”

NCIIA has funded and supported nearly 400 student technology innovations, which have launched approximately 100 ongoing companies. Many of these ventures made their public debut at the annual student showcase, including recent companies such as Ecovative Design, which has licensed its biodegradable, mushroom-based packaging material, EcoCradle™, to Steelcase® furniture manufacturers; SMIT Solar Ivy, which is selling a unique solar panel system designed to resemble ivy vines; Sproxil, a cell phone-based anti-counterfeit drug technology launched in Nigeria; and Therapeutic Systems’ unique autism treatment vest that should be hitting the market by the end of this year.

Open Minds 2011 will be held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 26.  Admission to the museum, and to the event, is free. For more information about the student showcase and annual conference, please visit:

About the NCIIA

The NCIIA achieves positive and sustainable social and environmental impact through technological innovation by providing end-to-end service grants, mentoring and other experiential resources to higher education institutions. With support from The Lemelson Foundation, the National Science Foundation and a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities from all over the United States, the NCIIA engages more than 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their respective campuses as working laboratories and incubators for businesses and ultimately helping them to bring their concepts to commercialization. For more information, please visit