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EKU Students to Compete in Idea State U

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Kentucky’s brightest college entrepreneurs have enrolled in a different type of university – one that could turn the next big idea into a full-scale company.

Students from 15 colleges and universities from across the state will participate in the Cabinet for Economic Development’s Idea State U, a nationally recognized business plan competition designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship on the college level.

New this year will be three regional Idea State U competitions leading up to the finals. Nearly 35 teams of undergraduate and graduate students will participate in the regionals, where they will pitch new concepts and plans for what could become the next big business.

The top eight teams from each competition will compete in the Idea State U finals in April, with the best ideas winning a share of up to $100,000 to get their companies up and running.

“Idea State U demonstrates the tremendous amount of entrepreneurial talent we have among Kentucky’s young people,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Many of these students will go on to form real companies that will create real jobs and grow our economy. We have some of the brightest young minds in the country, and we need to encourage them to build on their dreams right here in the Commonwealth.”

For the first time in its eight-year history, the competition is open to all post-secondary institutions in the Commonwealth. Schools participating for the first time include Berea College, Georgetown College, Brescia University, Lindsey Wilson College, Asbury University and the Kentucky Community & Technical College in Owensboro.

“The interest from student entrepreneurs has been enormous,” said Mandy Lambert, commissioner of business development for the Cabinet. “We’re very excited to see more schools participating this year, and we expect the number of teams will continue to grow in the years to come. More and more students are learning that they can become the next great innovators, and we’re pleased to offer them this opportunity.”

The regional events will take place at the following locations:

  • Owensboro:March 24, Owensboro Community & Technical College, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. CT

  • Hazard:March 26, Hazard Community & Technical College, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. ET

  • Florence:March 28, Gateway Community & Technical College, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. ET

The Idea State U finals are April 24-25 at the Lexington Center in Lexington. Members of each team will deliver elevator pitches and formal presentations before a panel of judges. The judges will not only determine the winners, but also provide valuable feedback and advice to all participants.

Cash prizes are weighted to provide larger awards to teams whose entries are more fully developed and therefore more likely to succeed. Most of the money can only be claimed as reimbursements for specified business expenses after the team forms a legal company in Kentucky.

The student teams also will continue to work with the Kentucky Innovation Network to pursue their business goals. Consisting of 13 offices throughout the state, the Network helps entrepreneurs and small business owners at any stage – whether it is just starting with an idea or already having an established business – and works with them to plan, build and launch their business.

The Office of Entrepreneurship within the Cabinet for Economic Development oversees Idea State U, as well as an array of other services, programs and initiatives to encourage small business growth.The goal of the office is to streamline the state’s focus and efforts to create and promote a strong culture of entrepreneurship.

All events are open to the media and public. For a schedule and additional information, visit

Published on March 18, 2015

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