FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 4, 2016) – A record number of innovative young business minds from across Kentucky pitched ideas for startups during Idea State U competitions last week with 32 regional winners advancing to the final round, scheduled for April 22-23 in Lexington.
Students from 18 Kentucky colleges and universities participated in the Cabinet for Economic Development’s ninth annual Idea State U event, a nationally recognized business plan competition designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship at the college level.
This year, 51 teams of undergraduate and graduate students registered, the most ever. During four regional rounds, each team delivered a formal presentation to a panel of judges. The judges determined the top finishers in each of two categories, as well as provided valuable feedback and advice.
Last year’s Idea State U included regional events for the first time with three preliminary rounds. Expanding on that success, this year’s competition included one additional regional competition.
“After nearly a decade of success, Idea State U continues to grow. As a result, the 2016 event boasts the largest number of participants to date,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development for the Cabinet. “This year we welcome six new colleges and universities to the competition. Adding a fourth regional event means an increasing number of students caught the entrepreneurial spirit and jumped at the opportunity to compete with their business models and plans.”
At the first regional round, March 28 at Hopkinsville Community College, Ethridge HB4 won the Business Plan division with its bipod developed for turkey hunters. Hydrosure, which invented a disposable waterproof liner for female swimmers, placed first in the Business Model category.
At round two, held March 30 at Big Sandy Community & Technical College in Prestonsburg, Sollertis Records, a recording label providing music, entertainment and apparel, won the Business Plan category. Mow Mi, an app connecting lawn servicers with property owners, took first place in the Business Model division.
In Columbia at Lindsey Wilson College, on March 31, Digi-books, which proposes a hybrid, digital book publishing format, took first in the Business Plan category. Bison Adventure Gear won first place Business Model. It recycles whitewater rafts to make backpacks, duffle bags and dry bags.
At Gateway Community & Technical College in Florence on April 2, EventSpyder won the Business Plan category’s first place with its mission to personalize event recommendations, delivered via an app, for college students. Taking first place for its business model, triovolt would manufacture battery packs for lightweight electric bicycles and other campus-friendly vehicles.
The top teams from each regional round will compete in the Idea State U finals at Lexington’s Griffin Gate Marriott, scheduled for April 22-23. Winners will receive a share of a $100,000 prize pool to help move their ideas forward.
Cash prizes are weighted to provide larger awards to the more fully developed entries that are therefore more likely to succeed. Most of the award funds can be claimed only as reimbursements for specified business expenses after the team forms a legal Kentucky company.
The student teams also will continue to work with the Kentucky Innovation Network to pursue their business goals. Consisting of 13 offices throughout the state, the Kentucky Innovation Network helps entrepreneurs and small business owners at any stage – whether it is just starting with an idea or already having an established business – and works with them to plan, build and launch their business.
The Office of Entrepreneurship within the Cabinet for Economic Development oversees Idea State U, as well as an array of other services, programs and initiatives to encourage small business growth. The goal of the office is to streamline the state’s focus and efforts to create and promote a strong culture of entrepreneurship.
The competition is open to all post-secondary institutions in the Commonwealth. This year’s list of entrants reveals a spike in participation from community and technical colleges across the state. Schools participating for the first time include Ashland Community and Technical College, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Centre College, Hopkinsville Community College, Madisonville Community College, Sullivan University and Asbury University.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2015 totaled a state record $5.1 billion, spurring more than 16,000 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.