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On Thursday August 30th, I had the privilege to represent SAP at the Wildfire Demo Day held at The Garage on the campus of Northwestern University. Ten different startup teams demonstrated unique and disruptive business or process innovations. The presentations were energetic and compelling and many of the ideas have potential for significant social or economic impact. The startups included themes directly aligned with many of the UN Global Goals for sustainable development including Goal 3 - Good Health and Well Being , Goal 4 - Quality Education, and Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth.

The Garage is Northwestern's hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation. It brings together a cross-disciplinary community of students, faculty, staff and alumni who all share a passion for building new ideas. The 11,000-square foot space, located in the University’s North Campus Parking Garage, is currently home to approximately 60 student-founded startups per academic quarter. Twice a year, The Garage runs Wildfire, a pre-accelerator program, to prepare student teams for the next stage of their start-ups—be it an accelerator program, raising capital from angel investors or bootstrapping their way to success. Over 1,000 students, faculty and staff visit The Garage each month for classes, office hours, events and workshops.

The Garage’s Summer Pre-Accelerator Program, Wildfire, presented in partnership with the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosted its end-of-program Demo Day last night. The ten Wildfire teams showcased and pitched their startups to an audience of Northwestern students, faculty, mentors and partners for a prize pool of $10,000, awarded Shark Tank style by a panel of judges. The competing teams are described below.

CoCo Health: CoCo Health provides on-site mental wellness support for employers and employees by bringing counselors and providers to the workplace, breaking down barriers for stressed employees to manage stress effectively, and to help reduce the costs of absenteeism and burnout.

Crafthome: Crafthome is a platform that guides homeowners through the renovation process by empowering them with the tools needed to turn their house into their home.

FanHome: FanHome is a platform for Twitch-viewing parties, connecting gaming enthusiasts who want to host in-home watch parties with others who are looking for a couch with fellow fans.

Globe Talk: Globe Talk is a nonprofit that provides a free, virtual international exchange program that connects high school students in technology-driven pen pal relationships to explore different cultures and expand their horizons.

Jora: Jora puts electrolytes in their alcoholic cocktails to make you feel less bad the next day.

Lineshift: LineShift brings modern manufacturing tools to small and medium sized manufacturers. Through a detailed production process and workforce analysis, we identify and implement high ROI manufacturing technology and provide opportunities to maximize workforce potential.

PAL: Empowering the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community through wearable technology to detect, notify, and reduce the frequency of meltdowns.

People6: People6 creates connection by engaging and growing university students’ talents, skills and experience while helping businesses tell their story and articulate their brand.

Lens: Lens provides streamlined bipartisan political education for high school social studies teachers and students through an interactive online platform, allowing students to form their own political identities and teachers to educate students more efficiently and effectively.

Wingding: Wingding designs and builds formal suits that appeal to college and young professional men: flexible, stylish, lightweight, and machine washable.

We will continue to participate in events in the Midwest ecosystem to expand our SAP Next-Gen Innovation Network in Chicago.