Market-ready start-ups are being encouraged to enter a university business plan competition, with $100,000 in prize money offered in addition to one-on-one mentoring from the university’s resident pitch coach.
The University of Queensland Business School has launched Enterprize, a $100,000 competition designed to help start-ups get their product to market.
Now in its 11th year, the competition typically attracts around 100 applicants, but only seven or eight teams are chosen as finalists to prepare for the competition’s pitch day.
Applicants submit a 30 to 40-page business plan, which is viewed by the judges online, and finalists are chosen to attend an interview with the judging panel.
The competition culminates in a pitch day in August, attended by venture capitalists and angel investors, where the finalists have eight minutes to pitch their idea and convince the judges why they should win $100,000.
The judging panel is made up of a cross-section of industry leaders, including representatives from Venture Capital Attraction, Southern Cross Venture Partners and NBC Capital.
Tim Coles, marketing alumni coordinator at the university’s business school, says while there is only one winner, all the finalists receive coaching in the lead-up to the pitch day.
“The majority of the work happens pre-pitch day… The finalists go through the process of pitch coaching and refining their business plan,” Coles says.
“We have a resident pitch coach, who works for the business school, who conducts various workshops for the finalists.”
According to Coles, the pitch day serves as a platform for the finalists to present themselves to prospective investors, regardless of whether they win or not.
He says business ideas range from medical and scientific breakthroughs to commercialising software solutions and developing alternative fuels.
“It really is a mixed bag of people that you get; $100,000, no strings attached, entices people from a range of backgrounds,” he says.
Melbourne-based start-up Southern Innovation, the 2010 winner of Enterprize, is hoping to see its product on the market before the end of the year.
It’s patented digital pulse processing technology speeds up the way data is analysed in devices which detect and measure radiation, such as X-ray machines, CT scanners, and equipment which detects drugs, explosives and landmines.
Southern Innovation managing director David Scoullar says winning the competition gave the company “a huge boost at a critical time”.
“We are now focusing on licensing our technology to a US company for global release,” he says.