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Many students have turned their ideas into profitable startup companies ranging from web design to cycling apparel, while enrolled at UT.

Since 2010, sixty student teams have been awarded more than $197,000 in funding to further their business ideas through business plan competitions organized by the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

This spring, UT students with business aspirations can win cash and other prizes by competing in up to three Anderson Center-sponsored competitions—Vol Court, Undergraduate Business Plan Competition, and Boyd Venture Challenge.

Kicking off the semester is Vol Court, a six-week entrepreneurial speaker series that teaches students the basics of starting a business. The series, which begins February 17, culminates in a pitch competition during which participants put into practice what they’ve learned by presenting their business ideas to a panel of professionals. Vol Court meets from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. on Tuesdays in Haslam Business Building Room 104. No advance registration is required, and Vol Court is open to students, faculty, staff, and members of the local community. The winner of the Vol Court Pitch Competition will receive $1,000 in cash, one year free rent in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, and various professional services. The runner-up will receive $500 in cash, six months free rent in the UTRF Business Incubator, and various professional services. For more information, visit the Vol Court website.

The Undergraduate Business Plan Competition features three rounds of judging and is open to UT Knoxville and UT Institute of Agriculture undergraduates from any field of study. First, second, and third prizes of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000, respectively, are awarded in two business categories, growth and lifestyle. In order to compete, students must submit a one-page statement of concept by February 27. Interested students should visit the Undergraduate Business Plan Competition website for application guidelines.

Boyd Venture Challenge, the last Anderson Center competition of the semester, awards up to $20,000 in seed funding to student-owned startups. Any UT undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral student is eligible to apply, providing they own a legally formed company and are enrolled in a UT degree program in Knoxville at the time of application. The deadline for applications is March 25. To date, Boyd Venture Challenge has awarded $137,000 to student startup companies. For more details, visit the Boyd Venture Challenge website.

Any student with a business idea is encouraged to attend Vol Court and participate in one or all of the Anderson Center competitions. Additional details about the competitions and information on starting a company can be found on the Anderson Center’s website.


Kimberly Hood (865-974-5126,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,