UCCS launches business plan contest with a sports focus

April 26, 2011

For college students who might want to become the Mark Zuckerberg of the sports business world, here’s your chance.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs announced Tuesday it’s launching a national contest for college students, inviting them to design and submit business plans for the creation of sports, health and outdoor-related businesses. The competition will award $35,000 in prize money later this year, including $20,000 to the first-place winner.

Schools around the country conduct similar business plan competitions, but this might be the only one that challenges students to create sports-themed and sports-related ventures, said Tom Duening, director of the UCCS Center for Entrepreneurship and El Pomar Chair of Business and Entrepreneurship.

“Business plan competitions, especially with a very competitive one like this, generally see some pretty good plans and they’re the kind of plans that can be implemented for commercial gain,” Duening said.

The idea of spurring development of sports-related businesses has been on the radar screens of Colorado Springs officials for several years. The Springs, home to the U.S. Olympic Committee and nearly two dozen Olympic national governing bodies, long has been touted as an amateur sports capital by community officials and civic leaders. The city also has received occasional rankings as one of the nation’s fittest cities.

Meanwhile, the recent Operation 6035 economic development planning effort identified sports, health and wellness as a target industry. And, the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. now includes that industry as part of its current five-year strategic plan.

“It’s to highlight the region,” Duening said of the sports plan competition. “We’re the only ones with the United States Olympic Committee, I should think that’s hugely significant. We’ve got all these sports governing bodies here, and all that. A great environment. Let’s bring 50, 60 kids here every year and let them see what we’ve got.”

Contest entrants retain the ownership of their intellectual property, Duening said. But if one of their ideas appears to have genuine potential as a start-up company and attracts the interest of financial investors, Duening said, city officials would love to see the business launched in the Pikes Peak region.

Under rules of the competition, teams of students from any two- or four-year college, university, community college or technical institute in the country will be invited to submit plans to develop a sports-themed business. Sports equipment, apparel and fitness and nutritional products are among several categories of potential ventures.

The UCCS College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship will manage the contest, which has a deadline of Sept. 15.

After a preliminary screening, 10 teams of semi-finalists will be invited to visit Colorado Springs on Oct. 20-22. Four finalists then will be selected, with the contest winner chosen by a panel of local judges.

Springs-based Challenger Homes is donating $20,000 to launch the competition. UCCS has some verbal commitments from other individuals and groups who would contribute the remainder of the prize money, Duening said.

For information about the competition and rules, go to http://epiic.uccs.edu/officialRules.
Contact the writer at 636-0228

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