The Lear Open Innovation Challenge 2018

The State of Innovation in Detroit

Detroit is the birthplace of the automobile, and, leveraging this proud legacy and manufacturing expertise, its industries are poised to be ground zero for the development of tomorrow’s mobility solutions. The city provides opportunities for the development of new technology through its many incubators and working spaces. Makers, engineers, and business people are all part of the Detroit Revitalization.

Lear Innovation Initiatives in Detroit

To continue to foster Detroit’s innovation community, Lear is holding an Open Innovation Challenge, which will bring together students of 5 universities, multiple disciplines, and at different education levels. To learn more about Lear and how this 100-year-old Fortune 500 company is in the forefront of mobility, watch this Autoline video.

The Lear Open Innovation Challenge

If selected, you will join an interdisciplinary team of engineers, business entrepreneurs, artists, and more from 5 different universities (University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Dearborn, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and Michigan Technological University) for a tournament-style competition. Students from any university may apply.

The competition kicks off with a two-day Innovation ‘Jumpstart’ Workshop on January 20 and 21, 2018. Fast-forward two weeks to February 3, and your group will present your solution pitch to Lear executives and key community leaders in Downtown Detroit at the Lear Innovation Center (119 State St, Detroit). The Innovatrium, an innovation consulting firm, will facilitate the tournament and provide your training.

During the Jumpstart Workshop and two-week sprint, you will:

  • Learn the innovation mindset and ideation process using the Innovatrium’s methods and tools
  • Participate in creating ideas for the future of mobility and vehicle connectivity
  • Practice sales and ‘pitching’ skills
  • Work with innovation coaches and Lear technology development experts to support your team’s success
  • Learn how to develop a solution to advance technology and manufacturing for one of Detroit’s core organizations
  • Develop connections with faculty at Wayne State, UM-Dearborn, UM-Ann Arbor, MSU, and Michigan Tech
  • Get an exclusive tour of Lear’s headquarters
  • Network with top companies and organizations in Detroit and Michigan
  • Best of all, be a part of what’s happening in Detroit alongside LEAR!

In addition to these experiences, as a member of the top team, you earn cash and non-cash prizes from various sponsors. These sponsors will attend the Shark Tank Pitch and become mentors for the winning teams.

As a top performing participant, you will be offered a summer internship with Lear to create a prototype of your ideas.

Past Success

Read this article about the 2017 Lear Open Innovation Challenge in the eyes of Wayne State University students’ experience.

How to Apply

  1. Take this 5 minute quick quiz to determine your natural innovation style. Note your results. You will need to enter it in the application form.
  2. Fill out this Google form. Be prepared to answer a few short questions to show who you are. You can also submit a creative video or other supplemental materials that highlights your strengths and your personality. Please do not post your resume.


  • This is a very competitive selection process. We’re looking for intelligent and highly self-directed students with a lot to offer, who are passionate about being an innovator and want to be a part of the creative community in Detroit.
  • The two-week sprint will be rewarding, but you have to be willing to work. Even if you are not part of the winning team, you may still be selected individually for internships and prizes.
  • Because innovation is borne out of constructive conflicts and a rigorous exchange of ideas, we welcome all students from different backgrounds, fields of study, and levels of education. While we do need engineers, we also need students in business, art & design, data science, and every discipline. There is no particular background we’re looking for. Just be yourself, and show us who you really are.

Don’t wait! Apply by January 10 at 8:00 pm EST. Those selected to participate will be notified by January 12, 2018. 

Please send any questions to Sahar Omrani at