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Leadership expert to speak at Innovation Week Kickoff Breakfast

Acclaimed leadership expert and artist Bob Upgren will highlight the Innovation Week ’14 Kickoff Breakfast, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 7:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the Memorial Union Plains room. A complimentary continental breakfast will be served. The event is co-sponsored by the NDSU Office of the Provost and the NDSU Research and Technology Park.

Upgren, of Bismarck, N.D., will present “The Art of Innovation.” He is co-founder and president of Cross Training Inc., one of the largest faith-based sports and leadership programs in the country. Considered one of the leading innovative thinkers on leadership, Upgren has given presentations before more than 1 million people worldwide. As a consultant for Fortune 100 companies, Upgren’s past clients include Sharp Electronics, The Make a Wish Foundation, National Basketball Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Verizon Wireless.

“I want to instill perspective. The harsh reality is this; those who fail to innovate in today’s marketplace are left behind. Innovation isn't a segment of your business, it’s essential to your business,” Upgren said, noting he will share information on tools he uses to accelerate his work.

“It’s important for college students to understand there is no threshold to pass before you start something. If they have a clear vision, a defined strategy and the right tools, they are as prepared as anyone to press the ‘Go’ button. The last time I checked, Mark Zuckerberg didn't wait to graduate from Harvard before starting Facebook,” Upgren said.

According to Kim Lucier, education services coordinator at the NDSU Research and Technology Park, Upgren uses art as a metaphor to teach, and he is regarded as one of the finest chalk artists in the world.

“Bob is a very inspiring and motivational speaker,” Lucier said. “The breakfast is open to NDSU students, faculty, leadership and the general public. We’d like to fill the room and give people a chance to be inspired by Bob’s presentation.”

 Upgren’s presentation is designed to stimulate creativity and innovation as NDSU students prepare projects for the upcoming Innovation Challenge ’14, held during Innovation Week March 3-7, 2014. The competition will award a total of $20,000 in cash prizes to top product, service and corn-based innovations. Innovation Challenge ’14 is open to all NDSU undergraduate or graduate students. Innovation Week is sponsored by the NDSU Research and Technology Park in partnership with the NDSU Office of the Provost.

“The purpose of Innovation Week is to encourage students to be innovative thinkers. This event will kick-off nearly an entire academic year of thinking creatively and bringing new ideas to life. Over time, some of these ideas will advance beyond the idea state into a start-up company, and that’s exactly what we want to see happen,” Lucier said.

Upgren’s blog can be found at For additional information on Innovation Challenge ’14 and Innovation Week, visit and click on the Innovation Week icon.

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