Cabinet for Economic Development
CABINET AWARDS NEARLY $100,000 IN PRIZE MONEY TO STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, April 23, 2008  
Contact Information:  Mandy Lambert, (502) 564-7670  


FRANKFORT, Ky. As part of its inaugural statewide business plan competition, the Cabinet for Economic Development has awarded nearly $100,000 in prize money to state university students who conceived or developed plans for 15 new Kentucky companies. 

The awards were announced after an intense two-day student competition, called “Idea State U,” held over the weekend at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.  The competition is designed to help identify and support the next generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs.  

Nearly 50 students, consisting of five teams of graduate students and ten teams of undergraduates, from six of Kentucky’s public universities participated.  The students, with the help of faculty advisors, spent months developing either business concepts or more formal business plans. Those concepts and plans were presented to independent judges during the competition who determined the winners. 

“This is where creative new ideas become next-generation businesses. One day the commonwealth will see these entrepreneurs and their ideas creating hundreds- maybe thousands – of new jobs for Kentuckians,” said John Hindman, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.  “These awards will help support the students as they work to turn their business dream into a real-world company.” 

Student entries described proposed ventures for products and services, including a patent-pending medical device, a remote-controlled robot to perform tasks for disabled people, a fast-food restaurant offering healthy foods, and many other innovative ideas.

Cash prizes were weighted to provide larger awards to those teams whose entries are more fully developed and therefore more likely to succeed in the real world. This emphasis on readiness to compete in the marketplace offers the greatest opportunity to obtain a return on the state's investment by creating real companies that provide real jobs in Kentucky.

The top cash award -- $44,660.09 -- was presented to the Partum Group, a graduate student team consisting of University of Louisville students, for a business plan to market an innovative medical device. Other winners included the following proposed ventures: 

  • $21,710.53 for a business plan to develop Healthy Kids Fitness and Wellness, a child-friendly health center devoted to the intervention and prevention of child obesity, created by a graduate student team from the University of Kentucky;
  • $8,684.21 for a business to develop Green Amy’s, an establishment offering fast food made from organic ingredients, created by an undergraduate student team from the University of Louisville;
  • $6,132.68 for a business concept to develop The Odyssey, an interactive movie-video game, created by a graduate student team from the University of Kentucky;
  • $5,427.63 for a business plan to develop the UK Bar and Grill, a UK-themed restaurant, created by an undergraduate student team from the University of Kentucky;
  •  $3,504.39 for a business concept to develop Springboard Wellness, a web-based product for stress intervention, created by a graduate student team from the University of Louisville;
  • $2,628.29 for a business concept to develop Thorough Biz, a Web portal focused on enhancing the equine industry, created  by an undergraduate student team from the University of Louisville; and
  • $1,752.19 for a business concept to develop Ability Robotics, a company offering a remote-controlled robot to perform tasks for disabled people.  It was created by an undergraduate student team from Western Kentucky University 

Ability Robotics also won the Governor’s Innovation Award.  The trophy was presented to the team judged as best demonstrating innovative thinking, possessing a “wow” factor, and having the best potential to improve the quality of life for Kentuckians and others. 

Students from six of the state’s public universities participated, representing the University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Louisville.  In response to this annual competition, several schools have enhanced their existing business college programs or established new entrepreneurship courses to help students develop business plans that can compete at future Idea State U events. 

"The judges and I were extremely impressed with the presentations by the student teams," said Deborah Clayton, commissioner of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Department of Commercialization and Innovation, which sponsored the event. “The forward thinking, energy and passion that have been demonstrated by this incredible and talented group of entrepreneurs are extraordinary and will have a tangible impact on Kentucky’s economic growth.” 

The 2006 Kentucky General Assembly funded the concept for the Idea State U competition to encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will help sustain Kentucky’s future economy in the global marketplace. The competition rewards participating student teams from Kentucky’s four-year public universities. The cash awards, which totaled nearly $100,000, makes Kentucky’s Idea State U one of the nation’s top state-sponsored business plan competitions.                         

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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 2007 totaled nearly $2 billion with the creation of over 13,300 new jobs. Information on available development sites, workforce training, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.