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West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition employs innovative Business Model Canvas to help students communicate business ideas

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Koffi Amegadje, Stephanie Turner and Rawlings Ebot Enow of the University of Charleston made up one of the winning teams in the 2017-18 West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition with their Voix Rx business plan idea. The students are pictured with Steve Cutright, left, director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at West Virginia University, which hosts the annual competition.

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One of the most intriguing characteristics of Generation Z is that a substantial percentage wants to start their own businesses and hire workers.

That characteristic has prompted the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition to implement the Business Model Canvas in its academic year-long event, making it easier and more efficient for college students to communicate their business ideas. Those ideas from students at any West Virginia college or university are due by noon Oct. 12.

“The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management tool that helps a person quickly and easily define their business idea,” explained Tara St. Clair, senior program manager at the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at West Virginia University, which hosts the statewide competition. “In the past, students submitted a one- to three-page summary of their business idea. This year, we have moved to a more innovative approach by adopting the BMC, a lean startup template for developing new business models.”

The West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition offers a platform to college students around the state to help make their business ideas come to life. The competition will see three winners receive $10,000 each after top entries are determined in the categories of Lifestyle and Innovation, Hospitality and Tourism, and STEM/ Technology. Participants come from many different disciplines and backgrounds, and the competition is open to all full-time higher education students from any academic major in the state of West Virginia. As the competition progresses, students will receive extensive education and assistance in preparing their business plans and creating their businesses. In Round One, as the field is narrowed to semi-finalists in the three categories, judges look for viable ideas.

St. Clair said the BMC is a one-page document designed to work through a business idea or concept by identifying two fundamental elements: the customer and the business. This is a globally-accepted entrepreneurial model, she said, because it helps the would-be entrepreneur outline the value between the business and its customers.

“We are excited to announce our new website: The website features the rules and regulations, process guidelines, competition updates, past winners and a number of resources,” St. Clair said. “Students can enter online by simply clicking the ‘Enter Online’ tab from the website. Round One has been updated to further increase the quality of the initial entries. We believe the BMC will help achieve that.”

The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition is part of a national network that includes Brigham Young University, San Jose State University, Utah Valley University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Ray Zinn, the longest-serving CEO in Silicon Valley and founder of Micrel Semiconductors, provided $10,000 to the BrickStreet Center in 2017 to make it part of the ZinnStarter program. The program is designed to allow students to create go-to-market plans, finish prototypes and ultimately be evaluated on the performance of their use of funding.

Last year’s winners included Hemeworks Technology, University of Charleston; Inspiration Bakery, Concord University; and Voix Rx, University of Charleston. The 2017-18 competition saw participation from 292 teams from 16 state colleges and universities.

The Brickstreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is part of the WVU Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Applied Ecosystem, a university-wide web of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community.

Other areas include IDEA Faculty FellowsWVU Women’s Business CenterDavis Young Innovators programWVU Extension Service,  Patent and Trademark Resource CenterHealth Sciences Innovation Center, LaunchLab Network,  Legal ClinicsMedia Innovation CenterManufacturing Extension Partnership, the MakerLab and Technology Transfer.

Review the list of important dates and information related to the competition



Contact: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics or 304.293.5131

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