Cabinet for Economic Development
Cabinet Awards $100,000 in Prizes to State University Students in Business Plan Competition

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, April 26, 2011  
Contact Information:  Mandy Lambert, (502) 564-7670  

Eight student ventures selected by judges as the most promising


FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 26, 2011) – The Cabinet for Economic Development awarded $100,000 in prize money this past weekend to state university students that developed plans for 20 new Kentucky companies. The awards were announced after an intense, two-day student competition during the fourth annual “Idea State U” event held at the Lexington Center, in Lexington. The competition helps identify and support the next generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs.


Approximately 75 students participated, comprising seven teams of graduate students and 13 teams of undergraduates from all eight Kentucky public universities. Students, with the help of their advisors, spent months developing either business concepts or more formal plans. Those concepts and plans were presented to panels of business experts serving as volunteer judges for the competition, who then determined the top eight entries.


“The goal of the Idea State U competition is to support a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will help sustain Kentucky’s future economy in the global marketplace,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “The awards will help encourage the students to turn their business dreams into real-world companies.”


Student entries described proposed ventures for a wide variety of products and services, including a smartphone application that relays prescription information from doctors to patients; a website that assists entrepreneurs in finding investors; a social media monitoring service for businesses; and a wireless system that monitors real-time parking space availability and location in parking lots and garages. 


“The Idea State U competition provides the students with three things every entrepreneur needs: inspiration, connections, and encouragement,” said James Fugitte, founder and CEO of Wind Energy Corporation, who has served as a judge at all four competitions. “The event teaches them to think outside the box, it connects them to Kentucky’s investment and business communities, and it encourages them to develop and test their ideas so that

they can be evaluated and improved.”


Cash prizes are weighted to provide larger awards to those teams whose entries are more fully developed and therefore more likely to succeed, and

most of the money can only be claimed as reimbursements for specified business expenses after the team forms a legal company in Kentucky. The emphasis on readiness to compete in the marketplace maximizes the opportunity to earn a return on the state’s investment by creating real companies

that provide real jobs for Kentuckians. Several start-up companies have formed after competing in one of the three previous Idea State U events.

The top award of $41,842 was presented to Cuddle Clones, a student team consisting of University of Louisville graduate students, for a business plan

to create customized plush animals that look like people’s pets. “We returned this year in the graduate plan category, after winning last year’s graduate concept track,” said Cuddle Clones’ Jennifer Graham. “The funds we received will help us develop our production technology and commercialize our products.”


Other prizes for the top-rated proposed ventures included:


  • $21,053 for a business plan to develop Natural Fit Life-Nourishing Club, a health club based on a successful business model from China that combines a traditional Chinese restaurant with spa services, created by a graduate student team from Western Kentucky University;
  • $11,421 for a business to develop Snorkle, a web application offering collaborative and organizational tools to college students, created by undergraduate students from the University of Louisville;
  • $5,263 for a business concept to develop The Health and Beauty Club, a full-service club that integrates beauty, health and wellness, created by undergraduate students from Northern Kentucky University;
  • $5,434 for a business plan to develop Kentucky Chia, a venture that is modifying the traditional Chinese chia plant to grow in Kentucky’s temperate climate to create a new cash crop for farmers and provide a supplement for horses to help prevent colic and laminitis, created by graduate students from the University of Louisville;
  • $3,105 for a business concept to develop GetWellQuick, a smart-phone application designed to improve communications between healthcare providers and their patients, created by a graduate student team from Western Kentucky University;
  • $2,329 for a business concept to develop WebNoise, a social media monitoring service for businesses, created  by an undergraduate student from the University of Kentucky; and
  • $1,553 for a business concept to develop All-in-One Payment Solutions, a smart-phone application to enable people to manage their finances and budgets through mobile transactions, created by a team of undergraduate students from the University of Louisville.  

In addition, the Governor’s Innovation Award was awarded to Northern Kentucky University’s Erica Conroy for her undergraduate business concept for a venture named eCeipts, which would develop technology to enable retailers to replace paper receipts with electronic versions emailed to consumers. This trophy is presented each year to the team with the business venture judged to best demonstrate innovative thinking, possess a “wow” factor, and improve the quality of life for Kentuckians and others.


In response to this annual competition, several schools have enhanced their existing programs or established new entrepreneurship courses to develop business plans that will compete at future Idea State U events.

For more information, visit


* A list of student entries, team members and contacts is attached.  Idea State U logo and competition photos are also attached. 



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The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for creating new jobs and new investment in the state. New business investment in Kentucky in 2010 totaled more than $2 billion with the creation of more than 11,500 new jobs. Information on available development sites, workforce training, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other resources is available at