100 Student Startup Teams Kick Off 33rd Michigan Business Challenge

ANN ARBOR — The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business has kicked off its annual business plan competition, the Michigan Business Challenge.

Round one of the competition took place Dec. 4, where participating teams presented their pitch to a panel of judges, and several of the top teams will be selected to advance to round two to compete in January.

Now in its 33rd year, the event continues to thrive as interest in entrepreneurship at the collegiate level is growing rapidly across a wide variety of disciplines and student degree programs.

Michigan Business Challenge, the University of Michigan’s annual campus-wide business plan competition, exposes students to a rigorous, multi-phase business development and planning process. Open to all current undergraduate and graduate students, more than 100 student teams from medicine, engineering, and a number of other different disciplines are expected to participate. These teams will have the opportunity to win a variety of cash prizes totaling more than $85,000, gain feedback from judges, and expand their business network with entrepreneurs and prospective investors.

“As interest in entrepreneurship continues to grow among students, we at the Zell Lurie Institute are proud to offer a competitive and intensive program to help both business and non-business majors gain experience building a business concept, developing it, and moving it toward launch,” said Sarika Gupta, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “We engage students from all areas of study to test and validate their business concepts, and provide them with valuable feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.”

Last year, the Michigan Business Challenge debuted a social impact track in response to heightened interest in startups that have a social mission at their core. This track is presented in partnership with the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute and the Center for Social Impact and was created to stimulate the creation of new businesses, products, or services that have a mission-driven goal or prioritize social and/or environmental considerations. In 2015, Blueprints for Pangaea was selected as the recipient of the Social Impact Award and $15,000 — for the company’s work collecting unused medical supplies from local hospitals and shipping them to emerging nations that lack supplies.

In 2015, the Pryor-Hale Award for Best Business and $20,000 cash prize was awarded to Companion, which launched a peer-to-peer safety app and participated in the Desai Accelerator. The early-stage accelerator is jointly managed by the Zell Lurie Institute and the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Winners in past years have represented a wide range of industries, including educational tech, fashion, bio and medical tech, and app-based businesses.

Teams may be comprised of individuals from the general public or university faculty; however, they must have at least one University of Michigan student in order to compete, and that student is responsible for presenting at each round of competition. Teams selected to advance to round two, the semi-finals and finals, will be expected to write a marketing and financial overview for their company in addition to completing a business plan. During each round, teams will pitch to a panel of judges, where they receive invaluable feedback and have a chance to hone their pitching skills along the way.

For more information on the Michigan Business Challenge competition, deadlines, process, and eligibility, please visit: http://bit.ly/UM-MBC16. More about the Zell Lurie Institute at www.zli.bus.umich.edu.

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