More college students in West Virginia are participating in the statewide business plan competition than ever before, as the widespread initiative to propel entrepreneurship in the Mountain State seems popular among state colleges and universities.

The West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, now in its 11th year, not only represents three $10,000 first prizes each year, but also opportunities for college students to start their own businesses in the state.

“As West Virginia looks at diversifying its economy going forward, entrepreneurship is going to play a specific role in the state’s future,” said John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University. “The Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition is a great platform to create and cultivate entrepreneurial ventures that have the capacity to be real contributors to West Virginia’s overall economy.”

All indications from the state’s collegiate community are that they have some business ideas they want to share, and the competition that runs throughout the academic year is under way. Semi-finalists come from six different institutions, including Bluefield State College, Glenville State College, Shepherd University, University of Charleston, West Virginia University and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

To go from a record field of more than 300 entries in the competition to 30 semi-finalists is difficult, to say the least. Nonetheless, after 303 entries were received from 15 different West Virginia colleges and universities — the first time entries have topped 300 and a tie for the most-ever participating higher education institutions — 10 semi-finalists remain in each of three categories.

“Our goal of getting all colleges and universities in West Virginia to participate at a high level is getting closer, and it’s thrilling that we’re over 300 entries in the competition,” said Julia Bolt, assistant director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at West Virginia University, which hosts the statewide college-level competition. The center and the BBER operate out of WVU’s College of Business and Economics.

Participating schools in the 2016-17 West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition include Alderson Broaddus University, Bethany College, Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, New River Community and Technical College, Potomac State College of West Virginia University, Shepherd University, University of Charleston, West Liberty University, West Virginia State College, West Virginia University, West Virginia University Institute of Technology and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Prior to this year, the highest number of entries was 232 in 2013-14. This year’s 303 entries also showcases at least five of the institutions at the minimum doubled their number of submissions and produced semi-final teams ranging from freshman undergraduates to Ph.D. and M.D. students.

For further information on the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, go to



CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.