Frequently Asked Questions

The Independent Innovator Challenge (IIC) is an annual, K-12, innovation competition that promotes and celebrates youth innovation in the United States. It is held virtually so that any student in the US has an opportunity to enter. 

The world is constantly changing and students may graduate to work in new job types and functions that currently don’t yet exist. Critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation are skills that are already in high demand.

The primary goal of the IIC is to give every child in the United States an opportunity learn innovation skill through unstructured problem solving activities that connect to core STEM standards.

Eligible participants will meet all of the criteria below:

  • Students are in grades K-12 (or the equivalent),
  • Individual students or student teams of up to 3 students may apply (all must be in an eligible grade).
  • Applicants currently reside in the United States.
  • Applicants are not eligible to participate through one of Innovation World’s Alliance Member programs. Click here to fill out the form and find out if there is an Alliance Member program near you.
    Note: Currently Invent Washington is partnering with the I.I.C. so all Washington state students are eligible to enter. 

Submissions are accepted in the following categories: Idea, App and Prototype. These are defined as follows:

  • Idea – The innovation is a detailed designed of a future App, Prototype, Program or Organization, created with words, pictures, calculations, plans on paper or electronically. There may be a physical display model, but the model has no functionality.
    Examples include:
    • Design of a device to feed the dog.
    • Design of a program to distribute unused food.
  • App – The innovation consisting of an application or software program strictly on a circuit board, computer, tablet, phone or other electronic device, that does not extend beyond the device.
    Examples include:
    • Software program to operate the device to feed the dog.
    • Software to keep track of the quality, quantity and location of unused food.
  • Prototype – The innovation is a tangible, physical item that has been constructed and has some, if not all, of the functions and capabilities that it might need to be actually used in the real world. It may not be made of the correct materials, it may not be the correct size and it may certainly not work as well as it should, but it does have or, at least, had the ability to perform at least some of the functions it is intended to do.
    Examples include:
    • “Working” model of device to feed the dog.
    • Device to transport food to the people who need it.

Our student manual is filled with the rules, to-do lists, and anything else you need to know. You can download a copy by clicking here

We will be partnering with the National Innovator Challenge for 2023. NIC Registration opens on April 21, 2023 and closes on May 31, 2023. 

The following are tentative dates for the IIC. 

  • 2022-23 Registration:
    Registration closes on April 21, 2023. Everything must be submitted by this date.
  • Feedback to all Innovators:
    Emailed by May 6, 2023
  • Invitations for those advancing to the Live Event:
    Emailed by May 6, 2023.
    This email will include an invitation to a specific time slot and a date by which you will need to RSVP for the live event. 
  • Live Independent Innovator Challenge via Zoom: 
    May 13 – May 20, 2023
  • Independent Innovator Challenge Celebration and Awards Ceremony: 
    Monday, May 22, 2023

If you are part of a co-op or classroom where one person is responsible for many students wanting to enter, please contact us at 

We do not yet have an automatic “bulk upload” for student registrations on the web, but would be happy to work with you to make your life easier. 

We believe every student can be an innovator and don’t want cost to keep any student from participating. We have scholarships and partial scholarships available. Please contact us as to start a conversation about the options. 

Each student registration costs $30. (A two person team would be $60 and a three person team $90). This fee goes entirely to cover the costs of putting together the challenge. 

If you have a co-op or classroom where a number of students would like to register, please email us about group discounts or using Purchase Orders.

For the students that advance to nationals through the I.I.C., Hewitt Learning will cover the costs of your registration fees for nationals. 

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