09:50 AM

UST Named Educational Partner in Our Sunday Visitor Institute’s 2021 Catholic Innovation Challenge

UST President Richard Ludwick and OSVI President Justin Shanks

University of St. Thomas - Houston collaborates with OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation to blaze new trails for bold, creative Catholic ideas. UST will provide curriculum and faculty via the Cameron School of Business for the 2021 OSV Challenge Accelerator phase creating content modules for entrepreneurial contestants, so they learn how to move their startups from ideas on to reality.

“UST and OSV Institute are embarking together on a new collaboration,” UST President Dr. Richard Ludwick said. “Our mutual purpose is as ancient as the Christian experience and as future focused as the promise of tomorrow. Innovation is a hallmark of Catholic vitality, and it is altogether right and good that UST and OSV Institute would team up to advance it. We are excited by the potential this relationship brings.”

UST has a key role in the OSV Challenge

OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation President Jason Shanks said. “It’s an honor to partner with Dr. Ludwick and his team as we continue to enhance the Accelerator experience for our semi-finalists. UST's focus on innovation, along with their view of the University as an apostolate for the New Evangelization, makes them an ideal strategic partner for the Innovation Challenge.”

UST plays an important role in the OSV Challenge. The University will provide a six-week, 18-hour summer boot camp that includes in-person and online entrepreneurial education with content that enhances the spiritual development and business acumen of the Catholic innovators. Alongside OSV Institute, UST will also develop a success scorecard to evaluate the program. UST will also provide input to the judges determining the 12 finalists from the 24 semi-finalists.

Continuing the Catholic Church’s Long History of Innovation

The Catholic Church has a long history of innovation. “The Church has always been at the forefront of great ideas – hospital systems, schools and universities, missions, shrines and some of the greatest art known to man,” Shanks said. “The OSV Challenge is a search for Catholic innovators with world-changing ideas.”

Making Visions a Reality

The OSV Challenge final three winners will each receive $100,000 prize money. In the broadest terms, projects may be artistic endeavors, business ventures, ministry models, physical products, or community and charitable initiatives. Ideas don’t need to be religious but OSV wants the idea creators to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Challenge Timeline

  • February 1 – April 2: Applications Accepted: The 2021 OSV Challenge has received nearly 600 applications.
  • April 30: Round 2 Begins: Selected entries will move on to round two where contestants will answer a questionnaire, develop a business model canvas and submit a short video for their project.
  • June 28: Semi-Finalists Announced
  • July 12: 6-week Accelerator Begins
  • August 30: Twelve Finalists Announced
  • September 17-19: OSV Innovation Summit Including OSV Challenge Showcase: The 12 OSV Challenge 2021 Finalists pitch their projects in pursuit of further investment and the three $100,000 prize winners will be announced at the Omni Hotel in Houston, TX.

OSV Roots

OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation is part of OSV (formerly Our Sunday Visitor), founded by Fr. John Francis Noll, which has been in operation for 110 years. Fr. Noll was a Catholic innovator of his day. Recently, OSV has integrated to a digital platform from a print publication to keep up with the technology of our times. OSV Institute was formed in the 1970s and recently rebranded.

This is the second annual competition launched to spark innovation and revitalize creativity in the Church. The Challenge competition was born out of the need to increase the effectiveness of the OSV Institute given grants and empower Catholic innovators in the New Evangelization and to build on OSV’s bold initiative.

University of St. Thomas’ Innovative Spirit

UST is also on the forefront of innovation in Catholic higher education utilizing its platforms to evangelize the Gospel and to put the human element in innovation. Recently, UST created the Maximilian Kolbe Innovation Network, a virtual think tank, designed to spawn ideas and assist UST in turning the traditional academic model on its ear to grow in Christ and thrive in the 21st century. Dr. Beena George serves at UST’s first Chief Innovation Officer.