SECU Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation: FAQ

State Employees Credit Union Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation FAQ 
State Employees Credit Union Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the State Employees’ Credit Union Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation. If your question is not found below, please contact us at

Who’s eligible?

  • Teams of undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled in for-credit classes at a 2- or 4- year college or university in North Carolina. Proof of enrollment will be requested of all winning team members.

  • Minimum requirements for eligible teams:

    • A minimum of two students and a maximum of five.

    • All teams must identify a faculty advisor (or center or administrative director) to serve as Principal Investigator (PI).  The PI will be responsible for tracking, overseeing and reporting of prize monies, which will be transferred as a grant to the winning team’s educational institution.  Students may not be the PI.

    • All teams must identify an Administrative Contact (AC).  This person is the grants administrator or fiscal officer authorized to commit the team’s education institution to the terms of the grant.  The AC is not the PI.  This person may be found in the institution’s grants office—which might be called the Office of Sponsored Research or Office of Contracts and Grants—or can be someone else who is able and willing to manage a grant within an academic unit of the institution.  Please note that IEI does not allow overhead to be taken out of prize grants.

Eligible Ideas/Projects

The prize competition is designed to stimulate student thinking about important issues impacting North Carolina and catalyze action to address them.  It is desirable but not required that all ideas originate within the team.  However, team members must play central roles in leading the development and execution of the project, regardless of where the ideas originate.  Teams are responsible for ensuring the lawful use of any intellectual property (IP) owned by others that is utilized in their projects.

Ownership of IP developed with prize monies is governed by the intellectual policies of the team’s educational institution and the terms and conditions of the grant.  If the institution lacks such a policy, the team must create and submit with their application an agreement that establishes ownership of ideas that come from team efforts. The Institute for Emerging Issues, the State Employees’ Credit Union and North Carolina State University take no financial or ownership interest in the projects funded by this competition.  All materials submitted for this competition will be assumed to be in the public domain.

What will be awarded?

One winning team in each of the four prize categories will receive a cash prize of $50,000. Typically, the cash portion will be disbursed in two installments six months apart, with the first following selection as a winning team and completion of required paperwork. The second payment will be made following a satisfactory review of the second quarterly project report.

IEI reserves the right to reduce the number of awards if an insufficient number of submissions in any award category fail to meet a minimum quality standard, a threshold set at the discretion of IEI.

How do I enter?

Entering teams must submit an application with budget, short video describing their idea/project, the resumes of each team member, a description of the roles of each team member and written statements from the Principal Investigator and Administrative Contacts verifying their willingness to participate in their assigned roles (see “Who’s eligible?” for PI and AC roles).

Can you explain the entire competition process?

Sure. There are five stages:

  1. Application. Submit your completed proposal and video by December 1, 2013.

  1. Finalist Selection. An IEI Prize Review Committee will review all complete applications/videos and select up to 15 in each category to be reviewed by a committee of Prize Judges in each prize category. From these, Prize Judges will select up to three in each prize category as finalists, to be announced December 19, 2013.

  1. Video competition (finalists only). From January 20-26, 2014, members of the public will be given access to the videos submitted with the application.  The public will be asked to vote for their preferred idea in each prize category.

  1. Winners Announced. Winning teams will be notified on January 27, 2014 and publicly recognized at the 29th Annual Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh on Feb. 10-11, 2014. Winning team members must be present.  

  1. Implementation (winners only). Winning teams will use their prize money to implement their proposals. Quarterly status reports are required. An annual update on each project will be given at the 2015 Emerging Issues Forum.

Judging Criteria

In general, each eligible proposal will be judged using the following criteria:

  • Approach and rationale proposed

  • Clarity of goals

  • Innovativeness in solution

  • Feasibility

  • Budget plan for using the $50,000 cash prize
    (Note winning teams are required to contract with an IEI-approved professional to provide mentoring support in implementation, and teams should reserve $1,500 for team travel to publicly accept the award)

Who are the Prize Judges?

SECU Prize judges for the business plan stage include members of IEI’s Issue Councils, IEI board members and others working in the areas of health, education, the economy and the natural and built environment.

The general public will be invited to vote for the finalists, so encourage your friends and family to participate!

What are the key dates I need to know?

December 1, 2013 – Deadline for submitting proposals and videos

December 19, 2013 – Up to three finalists in each prize category announced

January 20-26, 2014 – Finalist YouTube videos posted; public voting period

January 27, 2014 – Winning teams notified

February 10-11, 2014 – Winners announced during the Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh (winning teams MUST attend the awards ceremony)

If You Win

Once a winning team is selected, the following will take place:

  • A letter will be sent to the Principal Investigator with the approved budget and reporting requirements.

  • An award letter/contract, including reporting requirements, will be sent for signature to the Administrative Contact. The first half of funding will be disbursed to the institution for team use once this form is signed and returned.

  • Teams will select a mentor, with approval from IEI, to serve as the teams’ professional advisor. $5,000 of the $50,000 cash award is to be allocated for this purpose. 

  • Please note: IEI does NOT allow overhead to be taken out of prize grants.

Dispute Resolution/Disclaimer

All decisions by IEI and its judges are final. These rules may be revised at any time and revisions will be communicated to all entrants as quickly and fairly as possible.  IEI reserves the right to disqualify entries that in its judgment violate the letter or spirit of the competition guidelines. IEI, its judges and North Carolina State University assume no legal responsibility to ensure the confidentiality of any information submitted as part of this competition.