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OSV Innovation Challenge - An Interview with Dr. Matt Smith

In this episode, Andrew visits with Dr. Matt Smith, Director of Strategic Alliances at OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation. Andrew and Matt discuss the OSV Innovation Challenge that was launched in 2020 which is now accepting applications for its 2021 Challenge. Through this Challenge, OSV is “building up Catholic innovators by offering contestants opportunities for personal development, professional guidance, and idea incubation — and a shot at one of three $100,000 project prizes.” 

If you want to learn more or apply for your shot at a $100,000 prize, go to for more information. 

Show Notes:

Our Sunday Visitor was founded in 1915. 

Rebranded in 2021 to the OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation. Which felt like it supported their vision in a clearer way. The 2021 Challenge opened to applications on February 1, 2021.


Innovation Challenge

2020 was the first year of the Challenge and it was highly successful. They were also able to learn a lot from that experience. The Challenge was the brain child of President, Jason Shanks. They are thrilled to be able to continue to grow this program. 

The recap of the 12 finalists is available on their website. But what is most interesting is that those finalists showed a highly varied spectrum of ministries. They were able to see a great variety of applicants and finalists. 

Not everyone needed the exact same help or acceleration. Knowing that, they want to start to building a community among the applicants. And they will be putting emphasis on that community building into this next Challenge. 

Even if you don't win the challenge, just the process and the effort, is so beneficial to the organization. Sometimes we need that challenge or that purpose to pursue the idea. 


Does the Church have an innovation problem?

We need to be on the offensive rather than the defensive. OSV wants to lead and be a catalyst for the new evangelization. Entering in dialogue of innovation in the Catholic community and bringing it back to the foreground. 

OSV roots are in innovation and entrepreneurship so this direction makes sense for them. They make their money from the Church and so they believe that their money should go back to the Church. 

We need communication to open up for our Catholic innovators who are using their great ideas to forward the Church. To not only think about taking an idea to Silicon Valley but to think, how can I serve the Church with my talent.

With this idea, how can we bring not just a tribe of innovators but a tribe of investors?


Challenge Details 

Applications opened February 1 and close April 1, 2021

Contact Matt for questions surrounding your application. 

Rolling Rounds for applicants, meaning your application will be viewed as it is submitted.

Prize money for the finalist and semi-finalist. This change from last year comes from feedback they received from last years semi-finalists. 


Lightening Round

  1. If you could fund-raise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
    • Organizations in the Food Scarcity mission
  2. If you could get a beer with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
    • Jesus or Mother Theresa
  3. Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
    • You always need capital to make things happen. Once you find your mission, you can begin to find funding that matches. Money doesn't solve everything. 
  4. What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
    • Take risks and trust in God that everything will work out. 
  5. Who are 3 people who have most influenced you, professionally?
    • Parents, High School English teacher, Dissertation Director
  6. What is one fact about Matt that most people don’t know?
    • He was the "Under 18 Fort Wayne City Tennis Doubles Champ" in the 1980s.

If you would like to connect with Matt, you can reach out to him at: [email protected]


Andrew's Key Take-Aways:

  1. I don't think that it can be overstated what anyone participating in a challenge like this can gain even if they aren't the big prize winners. Over the years, I have started and thought about starting several small businesses. One thing that I learned early on is the power of writing down my business plan before I do anything else. That process of answering tough questions about whether this idea is feasible and what are the potential challenges to overcome is always so powerful. The huge benefit of this challenge on top of that is the feedback and guidance that comes through the process if selected to move on. I’m not saying to go out and throw any old idea into this challenge, but what an opportunity to think strategically about some new idea that has been rattling around in your brain and putting pen to paper is a really powerful first step in development. 
  2. Matt made a great point in the Lightning Round that money doesn't solve all your problems. He is completely, and in some cases tragically, correct. I have seen many organizations propped up by a single donor who rely on that and never seek ways to be better. And I have seen organizations make incredible progress on a shoestring budget because they are forced to be creative and nimble. So, wherever you are or whatever your situation, approach the success of your enterprise or your cause from both the perspective of innovation and tenacity (or what I like to call innovacity) and money. Both together is your ticket to progress.
  3. One of my favorite aspects of the OSV Innovation Challenge is something unstated but so true. It is so critical in this day and age, that the Church is not content to be reactive and defensive but that we as a people of God take the field of play prepared to play offense. I don't mean this in an antagonistic way, but rather as a charge, and dare I say a challenge, to all of us that if we truly believe that we have the truth and a peace that surpasses all understanding on our side, we have a duty and an obligation to spread the word and find ways to tell that story. We must be constantly innovating and adapting to our world because that is what Jesus Christ himself did. He may not have been a great inventor while on earth, but his lessons and teachings were so radical that we still read them 2,000 years later with wonder and awe. I hope that this conversation and this Challenge lights a fire in your belly to go out and be bold about your faith and seek new ways to share the Gospel. 

If you want more details about the OSV Innovation Challenge, go to and check it out. If you have questions or want to visit with me, hit me up at [email protected]. I’d love to chat.


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