The BB&T Davis College Innovation Challenge is everyone’s business
The BB&T Radford University Davis College Innovation Challenge has established a reputation on campus and in the community for providing a platform for students to identify market opportunities and design novel solutions to meet those needs.
Many exceptional ideas have been developed during the semester-long contest that attracts hundreds of Radford University students looking to breathe life into their business startup plans.
For the most part, business majors have populated the competition since its inception five years ago, but that isn’t always a winning formula for creating and launching a successful business, said Associate Professor of Marketing Jane Machin, Ph.D., who helps run the competition.
“In many regional entrepreneurship and innovation competitions, we see that winning teams often have members who are outside of business,” Machin said. “For example, there are people involved from science, design, engineering, information technology and many other disciplines. So, ideally, we would love to have students entering the competition from all disciplines, not just business.”
Sponsored by Radford University’s Center for Innovation and Analytics, the 2019 challenge began soon after the beginning of the fall semester, but there is still time to enter, take advantage of multiple coaching workshops and possibly win cash prizes.
The deadline to register is October 18, 2019. Interested students may register online and get all the details. Early entry is encouraged to take advantage of the information sessions.
The competition’s top prize is $1,000, and additional prizes will be awarded for specialist categories. Students who enter will be given free membership to the University’s new Venture Lab, which is located in the Davis College of Business and Economics and offers budding entrepreneurs resources to move their ideas into fruition.
In 2018, more than $5,000 in prize money was awarded to winning teams. More than 230 students in 80-plus teams competed.
The 2019 challenge is much like last year’s, but there are a few changes. One of those is a new category recognizing the best small business ideas. “These are ideas for businesses that often focus locally on unmet needs in the community,” Machin said.
Students entering the competition have an opportunity throughout the semester to take advantage of numerous coaching sessions offered by Davis College faculty and industry experts. Upcoming sessions include topics such as solutions that create value, Venture Lab use and identifying contracting opportunities.
These coaching sessions lead up the first poster presentation session of the competition on October 25, 2019. Here, teams will pitch to external judges the problem their product or service is aiming to solve. “What is the problem, and who is suffering from it?” Machin explained. “What are their pain points? Why are existing solutions not working well?”
More than 20 industry experts will serve as competition judges. “This is an opportunity for teams to get feedback and clarification from judges and take that information and move forward,” Machin said.
Three more information sessions will follow before the next team deliverable, a two-minute pitch video uploaded to Vimeo by 5 p.m. on November 22, 2019. The video will be sent to judges to view at their convenience, Machin noted.
The competition’s finale is December 6, 2019. It kicks off with poster presentation session No. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Davis College Multipurpose Room. The session will be followed from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. by a live pitch to judges followed by judges’ deliberations and an announcement of winners.
A complete competition schedule is available online.
In addition to cash prizes, winners will receive additional assistance from the Venture Lab and from external sources such as Lighthouse Labs, a startup accelerator based in Richmond, Virginia, and the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center, which is located in the Davis College.
To learn more about the competition, contact Machin at firstname.lastname@example.org.