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KNOXVILLE — Got the next big idea? Think you might have an entrepreneurial streak? Like challenges and the chance to make an impact?

If so, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, housed in the College of Business Administration, invites you to enter the fourth annual Business Plan Competition. In an effort to strengthen the entrepreneurial culture and spirit of the university, the competition encourages participants to enhance their understanding of new venture creation, polish their communication skills by presenting ideas to investor-judges and network with successful local entrepreneurs, business owners and venture capitalists.

All UT undergraduate students — from any college and any discipline — are eligible. Students can enter any idea, from the world’s best lemonade stand to a new way to harness solar energy.

The 2011 competition is offering awards in two categories: technology-enabled growth businesses and lifestyle businesses. Technology-enabled growth businesses have the potential for significant national and international expansion; lifestyle businesses typically remain local to a specific regional area. The top three plans in each category will win $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.

“Entrepreneurs power the engine of economic growth. Seldom in the history of our country has there been a greater need for these generators of wealth. This competition is a first step for students who want to follow an entrepreneurial path,” said Tom Graves, director of operations for UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“The college designed the Business Plan Competition to simulate real-world entrepreneurial challenges and stress levels,” he said. “By providing students with experiential, out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities, the university greatly enhances their chances for future success.”

Students can work individually or in teams of up to four people. The competition encourages students with both technical and commercial skills to come together to build strong, well-rounded teams. Each round of competition requires an exceedingly more difficult amount of quantitative and qualitative analysis that allows students to put theories they have learned into use.

“This competition provides participating undergraduate students an excellent chance to develop planning and persuasive presentation skills,” said Lynn Youngs, executive director of the center. “The business plan competition is another way that the university is using applied learning to enhance the educational level of our graduates. I’m excited to see the plans that will be developed.”

Following are important dates in the competition. More information is available at

  • March 2: Deadline for concept summary to be submitted to the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation,
  • March 8: Ten semifinalists in each category will be notified.
  • March 25: Each semifinalist will make a 15-minute presentation and take five minutes of questions from the judges. Semifinalists must also prepare seven bound copies of their business plan to be left with the judges for their review.
  • March 29: The five finalists in each category will be announced.
  • April 9: During the final round of judging, each finalist will make a five-minute “final pitch” (no sales or visual aids allowed) and then take 20 minutes of questions from the judges.
  • April 12: Winners announced.
  • April 15: Awards presented.

The judges will include UT educators, local entrepreneurs and business professionals, and individuals (such as venture capitalists, bankers, etc.) who support the entrepreneurial community.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034,