Some of ITPIR’s best ideas and most important research projects have come from its students. The flagship AidData program is one example of a student-faculty collaboration that has an outsized impact in the policy world.
In 2015, ITPIR launched a policy oriented Shark Tank research competition as part of an effort to institutionalize student innovation and to ensure that we do not miss the next great idea that could lead to knowledge breakthroughs, inform policy decisions, or save lives.
Leveraging the format of the popular television show, student teams propose policy-relevant ideas to a panel of “Sharks” or judges and compete for up to $20,000 in research funding. Previous judges include Dr. Ellen Stofan, former Chief Scientist of NASA, and Ambassador Thomas Shannon, current Undersecretary for Political affairs at the State Department.
The winners partner with W&M faculty and staff to implement their ideas over the course of an academic year. This close mentorship can help turn great student ideas into action and ultimately address complex international challenges.