The Next Big Idea™

The Next Big Idea™ is an annual innovation competition at NTID sponsored by ZVRS and Purple.

Teams of deaf and hard-of-hearing students worked together to create a product, business, service or type of technology that solves a problem or eliminates an existing challenge for potential consumers and/or users everywhere.

Sign up for the Next Big Idea this year, and your idea could win big!

Upcoming Events

The Next Big Idea 2023 is here! See below for our full schedule and instructions to register you and your team:

Monday, January 30 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.: Next Big Idea Information Session

  • Learn about rules and registration and how to get started.
  • Free pizza for all participants!’

Friday, February 17, 11:59 p.m.: Application and Submission Deadline

Tuesday, February 21: Team Review

Monday, March 20 – Friday, March 24: Round One Elimination

  • The Next Big Idea judges will select the top ideas to go into the final round.

Monday, April 17, 11:59 p.m.: Final Submissions Deadline

Tuesday, April 25: Next Big Idea Final Presentation and Judging

Apply Now!

Applications for the Next Big Idea are being accepted! To sign your team up, click below:

Apply now!

To learn more about the Next Big Idea or for any questions, contact Brian Haak at

General Rules and Guidelines

  1. The competition is open to all RIT/NTID-supported students* who are full-time matriculated students or graduate students and who are registered for classes during the 2022-2023 academic year. Entrants can have no academic, judicial or financial holds. *Interpreting and MSSE students also are eligible to enter.
  2. Teams should create a product, service or type of technology that can benefit anyone, anywhere.
  3. Teams consist of 2 - 5 students enrolled in at least two different disciplines (business, engineering, etc./departments)
  4. All submissions, sales pitches and review of prototypes will be reviewed by a panel of four RIT/NTID faculty and staff judges who will ensure that the work meets the competition criteria and who will determine the winners.
  5. Teams must adhere to deadlines. Failure to do so will disqualify the team from competition.
  6. At least two out of five team members are required to attend review meetings. Failure to do so will disqualify the team from competition.
  7. Teams may be required to meet certain project milestones along the way (i.e. complete business concept; complete marketing concept; develop sneak peek video, etc.).
  8. Submissions must be the original work of the contestants and must not be in violation of copyright laws.
  9. Submissions should not include racial slurs, sexist remarks, profanity or other inappropriate content.

First Round Presentation

  • Create a business plan using slide presentations (PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, or Prezi) to explain your idea. All presentations have a time limit of 3 minutes.
  • Answer the following questions in your presentation:
    • What is the product or service?
    • What is the goal of this product or service? 
      • Introduction of the idea
    • What problem does your product or service idea solve?
    • Who is your target audience?
    • Use a survey to collect feedback about your idea
      • What data did you collect?
      • Ask family, friends, followers on social media.
      • Your goal is to prove that your idea is useful and marketable.
  • Share your presentation link by February 17, 2023 
    • Ensure your presentation is only viewable by those who have the link.


The Next Big Idea event is sponsored by ZVRS and Purple, who award the following prizes to the best ideas each year:

  • 1st Place: $5,000
  • 2nd Place: $3,000
  • 3rd Place: $2,000

Sign up for the Next Big Idea for a chance to win big! Registration will open on January 31, 2023.

Competition Results

Each year, RIT/NTID students come together to create amazing ideas that impress our judges. Here are some of the past winners and their ideas that have come to fruition as a result of the Next Big Idea competition: 

2021 Competition Results

1st Place: Memorization Cooking
The team of Ronald Soriano and Alnord Deski took first place with an innovative concept called Memorization Cooking, which involves using a smart pot or pan that lets people cook their favorite family recipes anywhere. The pot or pan records and keeps your favorite recipes on hand, so you never have to worry about forgetting the ingredients!

Soriano is from Arlington, Texas, and is a fourth-year student pursuing a degree in the School of Individualized Study focused in Marketing and Communications. Alnord is from Bronx, New York, and is a second-year student studying Business Management. 

2nd Place: Team Go Big
Second place goes to Team Go Big, spearheaded by Jenai McKeen, Cashmere Pascual, and Deoraj Phatandian. Team Go Big’s idea was a hologram interpreter—new-age technology that projects a hologram of an interpreter in settings where deaf and hard-of-hearing clients need communication access.

McKeen and Pascual both are second-year Psychology majors from Pennsylvania and Albuquerque, New Mexico, respectively. Phatandian is from Queens, New York, and is a first-year Civil Engineering student. 

3rd Place: Sensory Beacon
The third-place winning team was Sensory Beacon, another trio team with Dylan Mahoney, Michael Williams Jr., and Miles Gonzalez. Sensory Beacon is a hub for business-to-business and business-to-consumer mixed marketing to provide accurate accessibility options for entertainment. Their goal is to provide a matchmaker service to a company that seeks to make their own brand easily accessible by creating the best interactive experience for customers. 

Mahoney is a first-year Management Information Systems major from Pacific Grove, California. Williams and Gonzalez are both first-year Business Administration students from Baltimore, Maryland, and the Bay Area in California, respectively.

2020 Competition Results

2019 Competition Results

The 2019 winners were selected by a team of judges from ZVRS, the competition sponsor, during the Next Big Idea final round on Thursday, March 28, 2019.

1st Place: DiwaTech
DiwaTech was comprised of members Daniel Cox, a 5th year Human Centered Computing major from Fresno CA, Chad Cummings, a 6th year Human Centered Computing major from Austin TX, and Anthony DiGiovanni, a 5th year Web & Mobile Computing major from Rochester NY.   
Team Idea: The idea we are proposing is related to video game accessibility, by applying an user interface design solution along with new technologies such as voice recognition API's to create a new software product that allows visualized sound data to represent audio output for video games. The prototype will be a software that picks up sound data from any game, and convert sound into visual data. The visual data will be displayed in an user interface app to allow deaf gamers to access awareness in the game environment. Our vision is to bring accessibility awareness to the video game industry and to develop accessibility standards for video games, we believe this will benefit deaf gamers worldwide.

2nd Place: Thinking Hands
Thinking Hands members included Karina Baker, a 4th year Sociology & Anthropology major from Los Angeles CA, Moises Tobias, a 3rd year Design & Imaging major from Los Angeles CA, Alina Kenina, a 3rd year Exercise Science major from Clarksburg MD, and Gabriel Veit, a 2nd year New Media Interactive Development major from Austin TX.
Team Idea: Thinking Hands is an online educational platform with the aim to provide academic support for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, through developing interactive educational videos taught in ASL.

3rd Place: HALBEG
HALBEG members included Bakar Ali, a 2nd year MBA student from Somalia, Eric Epstein, a 6th year Software Engineering major from Tucson AZ, and Tyler Anderson, a 4th year Journalism major from Las Vegas NV.
Team Idea: Halbeg Technologies makes ‘all-in-one’ private networking platforms for businesses, such as universities, who want to improve the interaction within their communities. Halbeg ‘all-in-one’ Technologies offer a simple way for members within a community to share resources. It enables community members to post requests, offer jobs, trade or barter, carpool or rideshare, and chat about local issues that impact their community, on one simple to use platform. Halbeg Technologies are hosted by the businesses, which allows for our system to be a more private and secure way for businesses to use social media. Our ‘all-in-one’ platforms make it easier for locals to interact and participate in a shared economy, thereby improving the overall sustainability of the local business community.

Contact Us

The Next Big Idea is an annual competition that is sponsored by ZVRS and Purple in partnership with NTID. In 2020, the Next Big Idea hosted its’ first high school competition alongside the NTID college competition. The Next Big Idea now alternates between high school and NTID competitions yearly. 

Visit the Next Big Idea: High School page for more information.

For any questions or inquiries, contact Brian Haak at