Students vie for big cash prizes in business plan competition this week
GAINESVILLE , Fla. — How much is a good idea worth? For entrepreneurial-minded University of Florida students, it could be a cool $25,000. That’s the grand prize for the winners of the inaugural Gator Business Plan Competition, which will be held April 24-25 at multiple sites on UF’s campus.
The event, sponsored by the Warrington College of Business Administration’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, attracted 140 entries in December. Event organizers have narrowed the field to 16 semifinalists.
“We are excited about the final pool,” said Michael Morris, the George and Lisa Etheridge Professor of Entrepreneurship and director of the competition. “The plans include a strong mix of technology and non-technology ventures focused on business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets, and ventures with a more local or regional emphasis versus national or international. The students come from all levels and from a wide range of majors across the UF campus. And, importantly, they all have a passion to start these ventures.”
Some of the ideas that have made it to the semifinals include a portable water purification system powered by solar energy, a non-invasive device that provides real-time information about blood and fluid loss, a multi-player online virtual world that promotes learning and prosocial behavior and a wristband that vibrates and flashes when you are a certain distance away from your smartphone to keep from having it lost or stolen.
The 16 semifinalists will be divided evenly into four groups, and take part in an oral presentation and question-and-answer session with the judges. The winners of each group advance to the final round.
In addition to the $25,000 first-place prize, second place will receive $10,000, and third place will receive $5,000.
“The Big Idea Competition is an important element in our universitywide emphasis on entrepreneurship at the University of Florida,” Morris said. “With more than 140 entries, it is move evidence that UF is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. While the competition is, at its core, an educational activity, I believe it will help foster a lot of startups, job creation and economic growth.”
The semifinals begin at 1:30 p.m. April 24 in Bryan Hall and Stuzin Hall. The top four teams advance to the final round beginning at 1:30 p.m. April 25 in Emerson Alumni Hall. All sessions are open to the public.