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KNOXVILLE — A new business competition for high schoolers sponsored by the University of Tennessee in cooperation with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory will give students across the state and nation a taste of technology-based entrepreneurship.

The event is known as the UT High School Technology Challenge. Teams of up to four students from across the country are being invited to submit entries and compete. Selected teams will come to Knoxville, visit Oak Ridge and make presentations March 26-28, 2009.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for young people to develop a product concept, interact with world-renowned scientists and entrepreneurs, and gain some understanding of what it means to take an innovation to market,” said Joy Fisher, director of marketing and business development for the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF).

Teams will be judged on the creativity and innovation of their technology-based product idea, the ability to explain and demonstrate that there is a market need for the product, and the extent to which they can show that there is enough demand to create a sustainable business.

The deadline for teams to submit their application and a summary of their idea is Feb. 2, 2009. Teams chosen as finalists will present their ideas to judges in person at the Global Venture Challenge, held in Oak Ridge and on the UT Knoxville campus, on March 27 and 28, 2009.

“The challenge is really unique,” Fisher said. “It allows these motivated and engaged high school students to interact directly with some of the most learned scientists and investors in the country. We hope to inspire students to continue their educations and become remarkable entrepreneurs.”

Scholarships to UT Knoxville valued at up to $6,000 will be awarded to each member of the 2009 winning teams.

Students, parents or educators interested in the UT High School Technology Challenge can find more information at by clicking on “Idea to Product Competition.” They also may contact Fisher at


Joy Fisher, UTRF, (865-974-0520,

Jay Mayfield, (865-974-9409,