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Innovation Challenge: Ideas Into Reality
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City of Riverbank councilmember Cal Campbell, right, was the Master of Ceremonies at the Innovation Challenge competition hosted in Riverbank which included five contestants with innovative ideas. Photo Contributed


The Central Valley’s Stanislaus Innovation Challenge is an event similar to the hit show called Shark Tank and the ‘challenge’ made its way to Riverbank on Thursday, Sept. 17. The Innovation Challenge is presented by the Stanislaus Business Alliance and America’s Small Business Development Center network.

The premise of the “Challenge” is to assist people in Stanislaus County that have a new innovative idea or product. Applicants will compete for $5,000 in cash and $3,000 in professional support which will help them develop their product or idea and move forward with marketing and introduction.

According to the website,, the focus of the program is to determine if their idea has commercial potential, help them develop their idea into a viable concept and then help those with the best concepts locate and secure funding.

Stanislaus County residents, students and business owners located in Stanislaus County are invited to enter the contest or experience the competition as part of the audience. There is no cost to be a member of the audience. There are six rounds of competition; three that have already been held in Modesto, Patterson, and Riverbank along with upcoming events in Ceres, Oakdale, and Turlock. Each event finalist that is selected out of the six rounds will compete in Modesto at the final round on Dec. 10. The Oakdale event is set for Oct. 29 at the city’s Gene Bianchi Community Center.

This past Thursday night at the Riverbank Teen Center, there were approximately 40 people that attended and five competitors that presented ideas. The master of ceremonies was City of Riverbank councilmember Cal Campbell and there were three judges.

“It was intense and nerve-racking for the presenters and you could tell that they were all passionate about their idea/product,” stated Norma Torres-Manriquez, City of Riverbank Administration Analyst. “It was such a fun event.”

The contestants were allowed two minutes to present their idea and after they were all done the audience took a vote. The top three finalists moved on to the second round of the competition which included a “rapid fire” presentation. The final round of voting then occurred and the winner announced.

Riverbank’s top three finalists were Nathan Bunney, Geno Franco, and Josie Cruz – all of whom had various innovative ideas. Cruz presented an invention of a cleaning tool that could assist in faster, better and less strenuous cleaning methods where one would not have to do so much bending or reaching. This innovative idea would mop, scrub and dust baseboards as well as crown molding.

The invention of a household grease trap was presented by Franco, who expressed his belief that this product will revolutionize the world.

The top winner of the ‘challenge’ round in Riverbank was Nathan Bunney, who presented to the audience and judges a new cell phone application, APP, that will hold people accountable for any type of change, improvement, or commitment that they wish to complete like a weight loss goal, spiritual changes or physical exercise.

The competition will continue in Ceres on Oct. 8, Oakdale on Oct. 29, and Turlock on Nov. 19. For more information, visit or call 209-386-1008 or 209-567-4910.