In a year when the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, hosted by West Virginia University, received an unprecedented number of entries, it seems fitting to celebrate entrepreneurship with the rest of the world. With that spirit in mind, the second round of the competition on Nov. 22 is one of the official activities of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.
During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors – introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities.
Round 2 of the competition in West Virginia is part of an initiative launched in 2008 that has since grown to 139 countries with more than 24,000 partner organizations planning nearly 34,000 activities that directly engage millions of participants every year. Semifinalist teams continue to chase three $10,000 prizes for winning entries in each of the three categories – STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Lifestyle & Innovation and Hospitality & Tourism. Winning teams will also receive a one-year professional services package valued at more than $4,000 that includes legal and accounting services. Winning teams must also establish and open their businesses in West Virginia.
“To have the second round of the Collegiate Business Plan Competition be a part of this world-wide celebration of entrepreneurship is just fantastic,” said Steven Cutright, director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The center is housed in the WVU College of Business and Economics, which hosts the annual statewide competition open to all 19 four-year universities and colleges in West Virginia.
“We have a lot to celebrate this year. Our overall number of entries jumped by nearly 67 percent. We have added a STEM category, making a total of three categories of competition. We believe there is entrepreneurial momentum in the state, and we most certainly want to add to it. Our participation in Global Entrepreneurship Week makes what we’re trying to do here in West Virginia – grow entrepreneurship at the collegiate level and now the high school level, too – very special,” Cutright said.
The second round of competition will be held on Nov. 22 at Marshall University and consists of three levels. Each of the 32 semifinalist teams must submit a written feasibility study, present a two-minute “elevator pitch” of their business idea and participate in a series of interviews with business professionals to discuss their business plan. The top five teams in each category will advance to the final round. The prizes will be awarded after the final round of competition on April 4 in Morgantown.
GEW is a week-long, global initiative that will be held this year November 18-24. It was kicked off in 2008 and launched by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “Countries around the world are embracing their entrepreneurs as significant drivers of economic activity and growth,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Week and a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. “Through GEW, we are instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in millions and helping them unleash their ideas.”
The 32 semifinalist teams advancing to the second round of competition hail from Bluefield State College, Concord College, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Shepherd University and West Virginia University. Their business plan ideas were judged by business experts from across the state and throughout this region of the U.S.
A total of 912 collegiate teams from West Virginia colleges and universities have participated in the eight years of statewide competition.
About Global Entrepreneurship Week
During one week each November, thousands of events and competitions around the world inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity while connecting them to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors. In five years, Global Entrepreneurship Week has expanded to 139 countries—building and strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world. Powered by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and sponsored by Dell, the initiative is supported by dozens of world leaders and a network of roughly 10,000 partner organizations.
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