USC Launches MatchYard on Facebook

The new application can help Trojans build interdisciplinary teams working on innovative ideas and projects.
By Elisa Wiefel

USC has launched MatchYard, a first-of-its-kind Web-based Facebook application that allows students, faculty and staff to connect with other interesting people, ideas and projects.

MatchYard was created by the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation to help innovators find each other in an easy and efficient way. It is a new strategy to nurture grassroots innovation at a major research university.

“USC is such a large campus that it’s hard to find students out of your discipline who can collaborate on projects,” said Emily R. Kemper, a USC School of Architecture graduate student. “The concept behind MatchYard is spot-on. I have used it with both the Graduate Architecture Student Association and the USC Stevens Institute Student Advisory Board. I also used it to connect and learn more about the 2008 USC Student Innovator Showcase.

“Using Facebook is a great way to get students to connect university-wide because everybody uses Facebook no matter their school or major,” Kemper said.

MatchYard includes a user-rating system that allows individuals to vote on their favorite projects. As part of the MatchYard launch, the top-rated project will win $1,000 and an all-expense paid, in-person meeting with venture capitalist (and USC trustee) Mark Stevens at Sequoia Capital. The contest will run through Nov. 14; winners will be announced the week of Nov. 17.

“In some ways, we see MatchYard as a grand experiment,” said Krisztina Holly, vice provost for innovation and executive director of the USC Stevens Institute. “We built the tool based on what the USC community said it needed, and the success of the application will be dependent on how people use it. In beta (testing), we attracted 540 users and more than 44 projects ranging from nonprofits to startups, and we are optimistic about the potential for viral growth.

“We would hope this application becomes a hit and spreads beyond USC to other universities, and we welcome input from the USC community on how to improve the tool.”

MatchYard is a flexible tool for all types of innovators from artists and animators to entrepreneurs and engineers.

Users can customize and expand their profile and include videos, documents and comments. Since MatchYard works where students and faculty already connect online, there is no need for users to create a new profile, remember another password or join a new site.

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