West Virginia’s Statewide Business Plan Competition will be part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a week-long international celebration in November that embraces entrepreneurship.

The global initiative, which is Nov. 12-18, kicked off in 2008 and was launched by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City. GEW has since grown to 125 countries, 24,000 partner organizations and more than 33,000 activities with millions of participants.

“It is a very exciting honor and privilege to be a part of this growing, worldwide entrepreneurial movement,” said Steven Cutright, director of the West Virginia University Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. The center is housed in the WVU College of Business and Economics, which hosts the annual statewide competition. “Entrepreneurship is growing in the U.S. and around the world, and we have seen significant growth within this state as well. In this year’s business plan competition, we saw a record number of entries from a record number of participating schools in a single year. Global Entrepreneurship Week is a great way to participate in and celebrate this movement.”

Round 2 of the competition will be held Nov. 13 at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center in the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont. This year’s field of 141 entries from 11 different colleges and universities has been narrowed to 20 semi-finalist teams. Those teams represent five different West Virginia colleges and universities, and will require competing teams to submit a five- to seven-page business feasibility summary, provide a two-minute “elevator pitch” on their proposed business, and participate in a seven-minute, face-to-face interview with business and industry professionals who are serving as judges.

Semi-finalist teams continue to chase two $10,000 prizes for winning entries in each of the two categories, Lifestyle & Innovation and Hospitality & Tourism. Winning teams will also receive a one-year professional services package valued at more than $6,000 that includes legal and accounting services, as well as space for one year in the WVU Business Incubator. The two winning teams must also establish and open their businesses in West Virginia.

Cutright said that participation in GEW this year, and in years to come, is important because of recent data on entrepreneurship. According to GEW, almost all net new jobs in the U.S. during the past 25 years have come from companies less than five years old.

“It is not surprising that policymakers are looking to reinvigorate their economies by focusing on ways to stimulate new firm formation,” GEW officials said. “America’s colleges and universities are natural incubators of entrepreneurial ecosystems — educating future entrepreneurs and advancing innovations into the marketplace. Today, more than two-thirds of colleges and universities in the U.S. offer at least one course in entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, university-based research is responsible for some of the world’s most profound discoveries, spurring breakthrough products and technologies that have markedly improved the way we live.”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will headline Entrepreneurs 2012, an event in London that has also drawn participation of other world leaders. The four-day conference held November 13-16 is a forum where leaders will emphasize the importance of startups and job creators to the global economy. Clinton will be joined by Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The 20 semi-finalist teams advancing to the second round of competition hail from Concord University, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Shepherd University and WVU. Their business plan ideas were judged by business experts from across the state and throughout this region of the U.S.

A total of 677 teams from 14 different West Virginia colleges and universities have participated in the seven years of statewide competition. For information on the West Virginia Statewide Business Plan Competition, see www.be.wvu.edu/bpc .



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CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics
patrick.gregg@mail.wvu.edu or 304.293.5131