The opportunity to start a business in West Virginia is now more accessible to college students than ever before.

The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition, now in its ninth year, has always been open to all full-time students at any of West Virginia’s 19 four-year higher education institutions. But this year, the competition also welcomes full-time community and technical college students from any of West Virginia’s nine degree-granting institutions.

“With the success we’re having, we decided it was appropriate to include the community and technical schools to expand participation, and also because we believe they will have very good ideas and concepts about business opportunities,” said Steven Cutright, director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. WVU’s business school is the host of the annual competition that runs throughout the academic year.

In addition to expanding the playing field, there is also a new incentive to enter the 2014-15 competition. Each participating institution will be guaranteed to have at least one team advance to the semi-finals of the competition, held in November. This year, that guarantee includes only past competition participants from the four-year colleges.

“Everybody should have an opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the semi-finals. It’s a very exciting time, a very challenging time for the students. We think each of the schools participating should have the opportunity to be exposed to that,” Cutright said.

This isn’t the first time the competition has welcomed major changes. Last year, a third competition category of STEM was added to the lineup, along with categories of Hospitality & Tourism and Lifestyle & Innovation. This addition allowed for a total of three winning teams that each received a grand prize of $10,000. The category expansion also paved the way for a record 235 entries from 11 participating schools in the 2013-14 competition.

“We expect 2014-15 to be the biggest and best year of the competition we’ve ever had,” Cutright said.

The West Virginia Business Plan Competition welcomes participation from individuals or teams of up to three members. Participants must be full-time students and winners must start up their business in West Virginia. Grand prizes for each category include $10,000 in cash and a prize package that includes accounting and legal services worth an estimated $4,000.

Entries for the 2014-15 competition are due Monday, Oct. 13, by noon.

For more information on the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition or to submit an entry, visit



CONTACT: Tara St. Clair, WVU BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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