IU Launches Biz Plan Competition With Record-Shattering Prizes

A group of investors has created a $1.1 million fund to support $250,000 in annual prize money to Indiana University Bloomington students who submit the best business plans for a student-led company focused on Internet and software technology. The annual prizes for BEST ”“ Building Entrepreneurs in Software and Technology ”“ will be the largest in the world offered by a university solely to its students in a business plan competition, the school announced last week.

The BEST competition, managed jointly by the Kelley School of Business and the School of Informatics, will be held in three phases over the course of two semesters each year. This year, concepts will be submitted by Nov. 15, initial business plans and presentations of selected teams will be completed by Feb. 3, 2012 , and selected finalists will deliver a final plan and a public presentation by mid-April 2012. The first-place winner will be guaranteed at least $100,000 to invest in their company, with the remaining prize money distributed among selected finalists.

“As the United States faces the highest unemployment rates in decades, we need to do all we can as a country to encourage entrepreneurs to create jobs and opportunities for all Americans,” says Matt Ferguson, head of CareerBuilder.com and one of the ten individual investors funding the initiative. “We believe this contest is an important step in unleashing the creative talents of IU students to create those opportunities in Indiana and beyond.”

Ferguson says the group of investors wanted to help create a competition rooted in technology that also stimulated creativity, offered opportunities for jobs creation and highlighted the quality of work going on at IU Bloomington.

Kelley School of Business Dean Dan Smith says he expects the competition to provide the impetus for new talents to rise from the IU student body. “We are deeply grateful to those who provided the support to make BEST happen and we fully expect this competition to be the premiere one of its kind in the nation,” he says.

“IU has an extraordinary reservoir of student talent and the BEST contest will provide the motivation to focus these incredible minds on exciting innovations that have the potential to advance society and in the process, further distinguish Indiana University as a significant entrepreneurial force. It is an honor for the Kelley School to partner with the School of Informatics and Computing to be part of this exciting new venture in education.”

Both the School of Informatics and Computing and Kelley could also benefit financially if the new businesses succeed as IU will receive an initial 10 percent equity stake in each winning company, with any returns on investment going back to the two schools. BEST winners will be selected by the investment team.

Read more about the BEST Competition here.








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