New innovation night draws designers, artists, entrepreneurs

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut presented the grand opening of Frank Ballard's Marionette  Modernism: Peer Gynt and The  Love for Three Oranges" on Saturday, Oct 22, 2016. It will host the first Innovation Night in Connecticut on April 10, 2017. (Yuwei Zhao/The Daily Campus)

A startup events series called “Innovation Nights” is coming to the University of Connecticut in April to kick-start visibility for product innovators who might not yet have the funds to become mainstream.

“Think indie films but for indie products,” Director for CT Innovation Nights Angelina Capalbo said.

The event on April 10, which will be the first Innovation Night in Connecticut, will be held at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The event is a joint effort by the Innovation Nights, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the UConn Office of Public Engagement.

Capalbo said they have four confirmed products and have two more in the process of being confirmed. At most the event will feature 10-12 products.

A new ride-sharing platform using commercial infrastructure will be unveiled, and a mobile assistance sling for EMTs and medical professionals will also be featured. Finally, a product that allows people to live share their events like concerts or lectures via a recording box will be debuted, Capalbo said.

Capalbo mentioned that soon, people will be able to see all the products and vote on which product they would like to hear pitched live that evening.

One of her favorite products that was displayed at Massachusetts Innovation Nights is “Building Conversation,” a convenient app that displays and shares 3-D and 2-D architectural designs.

Capalbo encourages UConn students and faculty to attend the event to learn more about the latest products because, “This is a visibility event for new products - students are invaluable in sharing new information. This may also inspire a student to innovate or to find a job.”

UConn Office of Service Learning program director Julia Yakovich said the relationship between service learning and entrepreneurism is crucial.

“A lot of the products that are exhibited in an event like this can have a positive impact on a community,” Yakovich said. “Service learning is not just working in the theoretical.”

Yakovich’s office helps faculty and students reach their goals of service and research in a mutual collaboration with communities, a pedagogy that is well explained in the CT Innovation Night.

On the collaboration with the Ballard Institute, Yakovich said that puppetry has always been an innovative and groundbreaking field.

“We will have products from the arts, business and medicine fields,” Yakovich said. “Artistic creations can become interdisciplinary by leading to healing.”

Yakovich gave the example of art therapy.

Innovators are encouraged to submit their product for showcasing at the event. Visitors can RSVP to the event, and products must be registered by March 10

For those unavailable to attend the Innovation Night but are still interested in entrepreneurship and service learning, a separate event is being held a week prior.

Barbara Jacoby, from the University of Maryland, is giving a lecture on “Service Learning as an Economic Driver: A Spacemaker for Entrepreneurialism and Economic Development” on April 4 at 10:30 a.m. at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.


Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus.   She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.