Person explaining idea to panel of judges


Are you a creative undergraduate student with a great idea to impact society?

Are you passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Would you like to work with enthusiastic students and experienced industry professionals to solve real world problems?

Do you think about design inclusivity, appeal, beauty, functionality, and environmental impact?

Do you wish you could change kitchen and bathroom design in your dorm, kitchen, home, or place of work?


M-Prize Challenge from Marquette University and Kohler logo


Kohler - Marquette M-Prize Challenge

Believing in Better: Design for Inclusivity


Every year since the first Innovation for Good® I-Prize competition in 2018, Kohler Company invites its 40,000+ associates around the world to propose revolutionary innovations and solutions for pressing global social and environmental issues. In this Shark Tank-style competition, teams develop and pitch viable business ideas to a team of executive judges for the chance to win incubation funding and for their idea to advance into the I-Prize incubator for further iteration the following year.


This year Marquette University and Kohler Company have partnered to launch the inaugural M-Prize competition, a similar innovation pitch competition for Marquette students. Students will apply as individuals – 30 students will be accepted. They will form six multidisciplinary teams of five students each during our Innovation Day at Kohler.


This year’s theme is Designing for Inclusivity. Kohler Company challenges Marquette undergraduate students from all colleges to develop and pitch their own unique ideas for how to make kitchen and bathroom design more inclusive for all.


The application window is for M-Prize is closed.


Who Can Participate? 

Any Marquette undergraduate student can apply to take part in the inaugural M-Prize Challenge 

No design experience needed! No experience in innovation? No worries, we’ll teach you everything you need to know!


September 8: Applications Open  

September 26 at 12:00PM: Application Deadline 

September 27: Applicants notified of acceptance to M-Prize Challenge 

September 30: Innovation Day at Kohler- excused absence from class & transport 

Oct. 1 – Nov. 4: Student teams work on inclusive design ideas guided by Kohler mentors 

November 2: M-Prize teams pitch practice 

November 15: M-Prize teams pitch to judges at 707HUB 


Why Participate? 

Build your resume: develop skills employers seek – self-development, critical thinking – problem solving, design, technology, inclusion/equity, leadership, professionalism, teamwork, communication 

Learn and navigate the challenges of start-ups; from idea, to concepts, to business case development, fund raising and eventually launch

Collaborate with peers & mentors from one of the world’s most innovative companies 

Apply your passion to learn about and develop innovative product solutions to real world problems 

Join a community of innovators – peers, Kohler mentors, professors driven to make a difference 

Become the 2022 M-Prize winner for inclusive kitchen or bathroom design 

LinkedIn recommendation from Kohler mentors 

Inclusion in press releases, social media, and articles about this M-Prize challenge 



M-Prize Challenge Deliverables & Judging Criteria

The M-Prize student innovation challenge aims to provide a meaningful platform, purpose, and incentives to drive engagement and grow relationships between students, academia, and industry to develop products, services, and opportunities with a social purpose. This rich academic opportunity empowers students to put theories, concepts, and creativity into practice as they learn about Kohler Company and work with experienced industry professionals. Students are enabled to bring their innovative skills and culture upon entry to the workforce as valuable contributors. No experience in innovation? No worries, we’ll teach you everything you need to know!

What are your deliverables?

This is a student innovation challenge – be creative! Teams will:

  • Collaborate to develop their concept
  • Formulate a compelling case for why their idea best aligns with inclusive kitchen & design
  • Prepare and submit a 1-page executive summary
  • Prepare a 10-slide presentation & pitch their concept to a panel of judges
  • Engage the audience creatively


M-Prize Judge Profiles


Laura KohlerLaura E. Kohler serves as Senior Vice President – Human Resources, Stewardship and Sustainability for Kohler Co. (“Kohler”), and has served on Kohler’s Board of Directors and its Executive Committee since 1999. She oversees the company’s worldwide Human Resources organization and leads Kohler’s Stewardship and Sustainability programs.

In addition to serving on the Kohler Co. Board of Directors, Ms. Kohler recently joined the Bank First Corporation Board of Directors; served as board chair of Outward Bound USA, and Chairs the Kohler Trusts for Arts & Education, Preservation, and the Kohler Trust for Clean Water. She also is a board member of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, the Kohler Foundation and Duke University’s Trinity College Board of Visitors.

Ms. Kohler previously served eight years on the Kohler Public School Board and in 2005 was named co-recipient of the Wisconsin State Superintendent’s Friends of Education award. Ms. Kohler was given Outward Bound’s highest honor, the 2020 Kurt Hahn Award, for her many years of work to change lives and inspire others through expeditionary learning.  In 2021, Ms. Kohler was named a Finalist for Innovative Leader of the Year, in Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators.

Laura focuses on making a meaningful impact on our communities, protecting the environment, and creating ethical, safe and inclusive workplaces where all employees can achieve their full potential.


Mark CaballerManolo Caballer serves as Vice President – Engineering & Advanced Development, Kitchen & Bath Group for Kohler Co. In this role, Manolo is responsible for all aspects of Kohler’s Engineering, Advanced Development, and technology innovation pipeline. He develops and executes the New Product Development strategies to grow the business and delight customers in all existing and new markets globally, driving collaboration and synergies of the global/regional NPD centers.
Prior to Kohler Co., Manolo served as Group Vice President – Engineering, Industrial Group at Circor International. He has vast experience in global engineering and product management. In addition to Circor International, Manolo also worked for Colfax Corporation and Ingersoll-Rand.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain and an MBA from Indiana University.


Michael LovellDr. Michael R. Lovell is Marquette University’s 24th president, serving since 2014. Under his guidance, Marquette focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship, and community renewal and development — all consistent with the university’s Catholic, Jesuit mission. 
President Lovell and his leadership team are navigating Marquette through a pivotal time for higher education. Serving as a foundation for Marquette’s future is its strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries, the implementation of which is being led by President Lovell. The university has transformed the Strategic Innovation Fund, unveiled by President Lovell in 2014, into the two-track Marquette Impact Challenge. It continues to cultivate and fund innovative ideas from students, faculty and staff with a desire to involve community organizations. It has further expanded the President’s Challenge track to encourage community-focused responses to timely, pressing issues.


Kristina RopellaDr. Kristina (Kris) Ropella, Eng '85, is Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering at Marquette University. She joined the biomedical engineering faculty at Marquette in 1990 and served as the chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2004 to 2013, when she was named the executive associate dean. Ropella assumed the permanent role of Opus Dean in 2015. In this leadership role, Ropella provides vision and leads strategic planning and implementation, creation of academic programs, engagement with industry, government, and other academic institutions, fundraising and community outreach.
Ropella’s research expertise is in biosignal processing and medical imaging for diagnostic medical devices, with emphasis on monitoring of cardiac arrhythmias and brain mapping. She led the creation of several innovative educational programs, including the Joint Functional Imaging Ph.D. program with the Medical College of Wisconsin, a new biocomputer engineering major at Marquette, a GAANN Graduate Fellowship Program in Functional Imaging, and the Marquette and MCW Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. She is also the founder and faculty director of E-Lead, a three-year curricular leadership development program that offers undergraduate students the opportunity to build on their technical skills and develop their capacity to lead people and teams.


Jill GuttormsonDr. Jill Guttormson is the dean of the College of Nursing. A professor of nursing, she previously served as associate dean for academic affairs in the college, has chaired the College of Nursing Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the University Board of Undergraduate Studies and the University Committee on Teaching. She has been recognized by the university for her commitment to teaching, receiving the Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018.
Guttormson has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s in nursing education from the University of Minnesota. She joined the College of Nursing faculty in 2011 after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Guttormson’s research focuses on supporting best practices in critical care nursing and symptom management and patient communication during mechanical ventilation with the goal of enhancing patient-centered care and the patient experience.



How will your inclusive design proposal be evaluated?

Teams’ presentations and ideas will be evaluated in 6 key areas:


Is the design original and does it provide a unique differentiator? Does it approach an inclusivity challenge in a creative way?


Are there clear opportunities for environmental impact in your team’s cutting-edge concept design?

Business Viability

Does your concept fit within Kohler Company’s Kitchen and Bath business portfolio? Is the concept viable from a business and technical perspective - can the concept be reasonably produced?

User Inclusivity

Has your team considered how the solution promotes user inclusivity and equitable access? Has your team considered how widely its design might be used among diverse populations?

Market and Consumer

What is the market opportunity? Is there a clear consumer use case? Are there other companies that have or do this? Include technology scouting and competitor landscape.


Does your Executive Summary & Final Pitch Presentation creatively convey the above criteria and the inspiration for your concept?


Additional Resources

About the Kohler-Marquette M-Prize Challenge

Ideas to explore

  • Aging in place, staying independent at home longer
  • Culturally inclusive kitchen and bath design
  • Product operational accessibility (is it easy to use and accessible to everyone?)
  • ADA compatible kitchen and bath product designs




Presented by Kohler Company  

Powered by Marquette University’s Office of University Relations – Economic Engagement, 707HUB & Innovation Alley 

Any questions? Reach out to