Cabinet for Economic Development
Kentucky’s University Students to Compete in New Statewide Business Plan Competition

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, February 05, 2008  
Contact Information:  Mandy Lambert, (502) 564-7670  

Over $100,000 in prizes and awards makes Kentucky event one of nation’s top contests


FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is conducting a competition to find the best young entrepreneurs in the state. The competition, called "Idea State U", is aimed at students attending Kentucky's public universities, and will provide cash rewards to student teams who develop the best business plans and business concepts based on innovative products and services.


All eight of Kentucky’s public universities are planning to send a combined 23 graduate and undergraduate teams to the competition on April 18-19, 2008, at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.  Over $100,000 in combined prizes and awards will make the event one of the nation’s largest state-sponsored business plan competitions.


“This new business plan competition will help encourage Kentucky’s next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new products and new companies,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “My Jobs First plan advocates building a strong entrepreneurial culture to spur small business growth in Kentucky, and this competition supports that objective.”


The competition will begin on Friday, April 18, at which time the media and public will be invited to observe the “elevator pitch” contest at the Convention Center. One member from each team will summarize, or pitch,” the business concept or business plan in 60 seconds or less before a panel of volunteer judges. The elevator pitch winners will be announced that evening. Table-top exhibits created by each team to illustrate their concept or plan will also be on display.


On Saturday, April 19, all teams will return to the Convention Center to participate in a day-long “oral presentations” competition, which will be open only to team members and an audience of their fellow university students. During this event, up to five members from each team will deliver a 15-minute formal presentation supported by audio-visual images and data, followed by a 15 minute question and answer session with the judges. Winners of the overall competition will be announced after the conclusion of the final round presentations.


“We are pleased to offer this opportunity for some of Kentucky’s brightest young entrepreneurs to put their ideas and talents on display,” said Economic Development Cabinet Secretary John Hindman. “The Idea State U competition will be one of the nation’s top state-sponsored business plan competitions and emphasizes the vital link between economic development and education.”


Prior to the state-level competition, only a few Kentucky public universities had programs focused on business plan development, such as the University of Louisville’s Aleris New Venture Competition and Eastern Kentucky University’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Collegiate Business Concept Challenge. Following the introduction of the state-level competition, schools without existing programs have developed plans for their own contests or are implementing a selection process to choose their teams.


“The fact that we are already seeing increased interest by university students in participating in entrepreneurial courses and business programs shows the tremendous value this competition offers,” said Deborah L. Clayton, commissioner of the Economic Development Cabinet’s Department of Commercialization and Innovation, which is planning and coordinating the event. “The universities have committed funds, faculty and administrative resources to develop new programs and new courses in support of their student teams. We’re seeing a real entrepreneurial and competitive spirit coming out, because each school has a lot of talented students and wants its teams to do well.”


Additional information about the Idea State U business concept and business plan competition is available online at the competition Web site: