FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 21, 2016) – Thirty-one teams of Kentucky college undergraduate and graduate students will pitch their business ideas at the ninth annual Idea State U finals competition, set for Friday and Saturday at Griffin Gate Marriott in Lexington.
In the lead up to this weekend’s finals, four rounds regional competitions throughout the past month narrowed a record field of 51 teams representing 18 Kentucky colleges and universities. The top teams from each region – four in the Business Plan division and four in the Business Model category – advanced to the final competition for a shot at a share of a $100,000 prize pool to help their ideas move forward. Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton will give the keynote address on Saturday at the awards ceremony.
Finalists will present their business plans and models to a panel of judges that will determine the overall winners and provide feedback to each team. The judges will advise students on potential challenges and improvements to their business ideas, as well as opportunities to further research and marketing of those ideas. The Office of Entrepreneurship, part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, oversees Idea State U.
“This has been the largest Idea State U competition yet, and the increased number of participants has resulted in an abundance of great business ideas,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development for the Cabinet. “All the teams in the finals deserve to be there, and the judges face a tall task in determining which stand out the most. For Kentucky, participation from all of these teams adds up to a major win as it contributes to the Commonwealth’s spirt and record of entrepreneurship.”
Judges award the more fully developed business concepts larger cash prizes as those are more likely to succeed. The majority of a team’s winnings can be claimed only as reimbursements for qualified business expenses following formation of a legal Kentucky company.
The competition begins Friday at 4 p.m. with events through 6:30 p.m. Oral presentations begin Saturday at 9 a.m. and the award ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. The Griffin Gate Marriott is located at 1800 Newtown Pike in Lexington.
Following the competition, student teams 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 just starting with an idea or already operating an established business – to provide planning, guidance, access to capital, business connections and other resources.
The Idea State U 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 Office of Entrepreneurship provides an array of services, programs and initiatives to encourage small business growth across Kentucky. The Office works to coordinate the state’s focus and efforts in creating and promoting a strong culture of entrepreneurship.