Release Date: April 4, 2013
BUFFALO, N.Y. — How fast can you pitch an idea?
On April 10, University at Buffalo students will find out at a campus-wide elevator pitch competition.
Participants will get 90 seconds each to pitch an idea for solving a problem to a panel of expert judges — including entrepreneurs from the community.
Students can pitch business ideas or other ideas that provide novel solutions to real-world challenges. No notes, slides or other visual aids are allowed.
Winners will receive cash prizes, with $1,000 for first place. The competition sets the stage for a new UB fellowship program through which student entrepreneurs will be able to develop a business plan and receive seed funding to start a business. (Learn more below.)
What: UB Elevator Pitch Competition (open to all undergraduate and graduate students at UB). More than 50 students have signed up to compete.
When: Wednesday, April 10, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Center for Tomorrow, UB North Campus (building No. 53 in the purple sector of this map: http://www.buffalo.edu/buildings/maps/NorthCampus.pdf).
Sponsors: UB Entrepreneurship Academy; UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR); Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund.
Why: The pitch competition is part of a pipeline of new university initiatives devoted to helping students become entrepreneurs and start a business.
“We see an upsurge of interest in entrepreneurship among students, and that's not only in Buffalo but in other universities and even in high schools,” says UB Vice Provost Robert J. Genco, who oversees STOR. “For example, 27 teams made first-round pitches this year in our annual Panasci Competition for student entrepreneurs. That’s a record.”
Here’s how the pitch competition complements other UB initiatives, new and established:
— The pitch competition sets the stage for a new UB student entrepreneurship fellowship program. Students interested in the fellowship — including those who presented viable ideas in the pitch contest — will have the chance to develop business plans with guidance from experienced mentors. Those with the best plans will become fellows, receiving seed funding and in-kind business and accounting services to actually start a company. The first fellows are expected to be selected in the 2013-14 academic year.
— The pitch competition prepares students for larger entrepreneurship contests, such as the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition. This annual event, hosted by the UB School of Management and STOR, provides a winning team of student entrepreneurs with $25,000 and in-kind services to start or advance a new business. Students, faculty and the general public are welcome to attend the Panasci live competition on April 19. Interested individuals can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-885-5715.
— The pitch competition and related activities help position students to apply for UB’s Western New York Prosperity Scholarship Program, which promotes economic growth by acquainting students with career opportunities in local industries. This program, new in 2009, covers students’ unmet educational expenses and supports summer internships at leading local companies.
— The pitch competition supports the mission of UB’s new Entrepreneurship Academy, which launched in fall 2012 with 40 undergraduate students. Students in the academy live together, enjoy the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs in Western New York, and develop plans for entrepreneurial endeavors.