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Our View: FastPitch shows off region’s innovative spirit

By The Editorial Board / Rockford Register Star

Innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit are alive and well in Winnebago County.

There were 38 contestants in Northern Illinois University EIGERLab’s FastPitch competition, a “Shark Tank”-style event that gives people an opportunity to show off their products and their ability to pitch them.

Those competitors all had great ideas, but the best was winner Rachael Lolling’s FitsBrush, a custom-designed toothbrush.

The FastPitch participants are living the legacy of the great inventors who built this region. They might not become the next Howard Colman, but their ideas, dedication and persistence will serve them well as they refine their products.

Participants have only three minutes to sell their ideas, so deadline pressure and the ability to handle it come into play as well.

FastPitch, which is in its 12th year, encourages innovators and gives them a vehicle to get their product out to a wider audience. That first bit of exposure can go a long way for someone who has taken a product from idea to production.

Stephenson County also boasts a “Shark Tank”-like competition. Freeport Fish Tank had two strong years in 2016 and 2017 and is on a bit of a hiatus until May 2019. That contest is more business focused. Winners have included entertainment services, a restaurant and security services.

These contests, along with networking opportunities like 1 Million Cups in Rockford and Mastermind in Freeport, encourage entrepreneurs to aspire to great things.

Kudos to Sherry Pritz Enderle, marketing and events coordinator for the NIU EIGERlab Innovation Network, for making FastPitch the success it has been. We look forward to lucky year 13.

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