Organizers of the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition set out to encourage more of the state’s colleges and universities to participate in the annual competition this year, and the state’s higher education institutions have responded. Loudly.

A record 16 institutions are participating in the 2014-15 Collegiate Business Plan Competition, including 14 four-year institutions and two two-year institutions. This is the first year the competition has been open to full-time community and technical college students. This year’s 191 entries also include four schools that set individual records for entries into the competition — Shepherd University, Alderson Broaddus University, West Liberty University, and Fairmont State University.

The competition, which runs throughout the collegiate academic year, is hosted by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. The BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship manages the competition, now in its ninth year.

The competition has three categories: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Hospitality & Tourism, and Lifestyle & Innovation. A winner in each category will receive a $10,000 cash award and a prize package including free professional services to start their new business in West Virginia.

“There is a great deal of excitement about our participation in the West Virginia Business Plan Competition,” said Dr. Caroline Glackin, Edward L. Snyder Chair in Business at Shepherd. “There is genuine value in the experience for all of our participating students, and this experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives. We tell our students that what they learn along the way in this competition is just as valuable as what they stand to win at the end of the competition. Maybe even more so.”

Even the judges have set a record this year, with 82 confirmed judges participating. The panel of judges is comprised of business-related individuals from across West Virginia and throughout the United States.

Along with the expansion of the field of participants, there are also new rules starting with this year’s competition. Each participating institution is guaranteed to have at least one team advance to the semi-finals of the competition. This year, that guarantee includes only last year’s 11 competition participants, but will open up to all participating institutions for the 2015-16 year.

The semi-finals will be held at Shepherd on Nov. 21, and will feature guest speaker Isabella Yosuico, founding president of MightyTykes, based in Berkeley Springs. MightyTykes designs and sells gear for special needs children. Its first product, Infant & Child Weights, are designed by Yosuico with the help of other parents as well as occupational and physical therapists to help weakness, particularly one-sided weakness, tremors and palsic movement, poor muscle tone (hypotonia) and sensory issues.

The highlight of the semi-finals is the pitch competition between the competitors.

Entries for the 2014-15 competition closed at noon on Monday. The first round of judging will narrow the field in each of the three categories, with semi-finalist teams competing in Shepherdstown next month. Following the event at Shepherd, the field will be narrowed to five finalists in each category. Final business plans are due from each finalist team in March, with winners announced at the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition banquet at WVU on April 10.

For more information on the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition, visit be.wvu.edu/bpc .

-WVU-

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CONTACT: Tara St. Clair, WVU BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
304.293.7221; tara.stclair@mail.wvu.edu

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