If, as Sir Richard Branson said on Friday, prizes are one of the best ways to encourage innovation, then President Jeffrey Herbst is on the right track with his new Colgate Innovation Awards.

During his remarks before Richard Branson’s Global Leaders appearance at Colgate, Herbst talked about entrepreneurial ideas and technology — and how important it is to try new things in order to prepare for the future. “For the first time in the 193-year history of Colgate, the Board of Trustees held a meeting outside of New York State,” he told the assembled crowd.

The site of the meeting, he said, was Palo Alto, the epicenter of technological innovation. Board members and senior administration visited with Colgate alumni and parents at tech giants including Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. They immersed themselves in technology in order to understand how it can enhance the Colgate experience.

One of the ideas to come from the break in tradition was innovation awards. Cash prizes were offered for ideas that would use technology and social media to improve the student experience: on campus, during the admission process, or after graduation.

The winners are:

Maroon: Share a $1,000 prize: Srikar Gullapalli ’13, Brian Lemanski ’14, and James Zhang ’13: “More than 13 Reasons: A Visual Search Engine”

Silver: Share $500 Prize: Christopher Crane ’12 and Andrew Greene ’12: “Colgate Research Connect”

Bronze: Each team shares a $250 Prize: Lisa Lee ’12 and Stephen Trostle ’13: “CommuniGate: Connecting Incoming Students with the Colgate Community” and Isaac Lee ’13: “The Colgate App”

Watch the university’s news blog and Facebook and Twitter pages for news on these and other innovations at Colgate.