UST named educational partner in OSV Institute’s 2021 Catholic Innovation Challenge

July 13, 2021

The University of St. Thomas President Richard Ludwick (left) and OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation President Jason Shanks (right) spoke about their collaboration to search for Catholic innovators with world-changing ideas. (Photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas)

HOUSTON — The University of St. Thomas (UST) in Houston is collaborating with OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation to blaze new trails for bold, creative Catholic ideas. UST is providing the 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.

“Our mutual purpose is as ancient as the Christian experience and as future-focused as the promise of tomorrow,” UST President Dr. Richard Ludwick said. “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.”

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

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.”

The 2021 OSV Challenge received nearly 600 applications. On April 30, selected entries moved on to the second round, where contestants answered a questionnaire, developed a business model canvas and submitted a short video for their project. Twenty-four semi-finalists were chosen on June 28.

The university is providing a six-week, 18-hour summer boot camp that began July 12 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. The finalists will be chosen on Aug. 30.

On Sept. 17 to 19, the OSV Innovation Summit, which will include the OSV Challenge Showcase, will be held where the 12 finalists will pitch their projects in pursuit of further investment. Three $100,000 prize winners will be announced at the Omni Hotel in Houston.

The 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.

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.

Shanks said 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.”