Newswise — SALT LAKE CITY (September 14, 2019) – Today Ivory Innovations announced the winners of the second annual Hack-A-House, a student driven entrepreneurial competition resulting in innovations to reduce housing costs. 

The University of Utah Hack-A-House competition included more than 100 students and more than 40 ideas. The a total $5,000 in prize money was awarded and the top-team, buildEDU, was selected to the Hive Conference in Austin, Texas to share their ideas with the top minds in housing innovation. The winners include: 

Grand Prize ($2,000): buildEDU, an innovative comprehensive workforce training and homeownership program. buildEDU prioritizes trade education, focusing on providing construction trade training that can be integrated into the public-school system. Students graduate high school with relevant industry knowledge making them employable and more likely to succeed, adding valuable talent to the workforce. The program is a path to licensure, not just another high school course. buildEDU partner with school districts and industry leaders to teach our students. Through an associated down payment assistance program, helping students get into housing of their own. 

Second Place ($1,500): Sustainable Solutions, a solution-based catalog to reduce impact fees in a way that reduces both the cost of housing and promotes sustainability. The model is based on a five-tiered point system, where each point gained through the addition of a sustainable option carries a three-percentage point reduction in impact fees. At most a 45% reduction in impact fees can be achieved. 

Third Place ($500 each): Third place was a tie between three groups of students that focused on employer-based tax exemtions savings accounts 

“Having the students, who most likely to face our nation’s declining housing affordability, provide innovative solutions is at the core of the Ivory Innovations effort,” said Abby Ivory, director of Ivory Innovations. “These ideas represent the earliest stages of the ideas that have the potential to not only compete in the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability in the future, but more importantly make a tangible impact on housing affordability given additional support and time.” 

Hack-A-House in an associated program of Ivory Innovations, and sister program to the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability, which awards $200,000 to winners that have developed ambitious, feasible, and scalable solutions to housing. The 2020 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability is now accepting applications for the Ivory Prize until December 15.

“Housing affordability is gaining increasing focus of policymakers, academics, businesses and philanthropy. It’s thrilling and refreshing to have innovative ideas from students actively facing the daunting challenge of rising housing prices,“ said Ryan Smith, Director and Professor, WSU School of Design and Construction. “I’m excited to see the how the best ideas from Washington State University compare with the innovative ideas from what we saw today at the University of Utah.” 

Judges of the University of Utah Hack-A-House, included Brittney Harris, a past participant of the 2018 Hack-A-House competition, and of the Housing Affordability Lab class at the University of Utah; Dejan Eskic, a senior real-estate researcher from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah; Jörg Rügemer, director of the Design+Build Salt Lake Program at the School of Architecture at the University of Utah; Ryan E. Smith, director and professor in the School of Design and Construction at WSU; Matt Melcher, program head for Architecture in the School of Design + Construction at Washington State University; Bruce Parker, principal of Planning and Development Services and professor in the University of Utah’s school, and; Clark Ivory, Chief Executive Officer of Ivory Homes, and President and Trustee of the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation, the leading sponsor of Ivory Innovations. 

The 24-hour competition took place Sept. 13-14, 2019, a second 2019 Hack-A-House will take place at Washington State University on Nov. 1, 2019. Those participants will help solidify economic opportunity for vulnerable populations in Washington and Idaho and beyond and also compete a trip to the Hive Conference in Austin, Texas. 

For more information about the Hack-A-House, the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability and Ivory Innovations visit

Ivory Innovations is an applied academic institution at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business dedicated to catalyzing high impact innovations in housing affordability. Ivory Innovations seeks to promote the most compelling ideas in housing affordability by working across sectors, providing monetary awards for groundbreaking innovations and leveraging its network and resources.



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