New England Biz Plan Competitions That Offer Cash and Connections to Entrepreneurs

Xconomy Boston — 

It seems like every few days since Labor Day weekend we at Xconomy get invited to attend or cover an entrepreneurship competition. This is a good thing. It means there are more and more opportunities for innovators in New England to gain exposure to the business community and investors—as well as a chance to win some cash and other prizes to help get their ventures off to a strong start.

Indeed, many startups in the Boston area have cut their teeth in the business plan competition circuit before raising rounds of venture capital or achieving other milestones. Take some of the past winners of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition: Cambridge, MA-based video game developer Harmonix Music Systems, creator of the hugely popular Guitar Hero franchise, and the dental imaging firm Brontes Technologies, which was acquired by 3M for $95 million three years ago. And Wilbraham, MA-based FloDesign, which won both the $200K MIT Clean Energy Prize and $100K Ignite Clean Energy competition last year, recently learned that it has been tentatively awarded $8.3 million from the U.S. government to advance development of its next-generation design for wind turbines.

There will no doubt be many more successful startups to emerge from entrepreneurship contests in the region in the years ahead. Some of these contests have been around for years. Others are brand new. But even for those that have been around for a while, schedules and prizes can change from year to year. So we thought it would be a good idea to round them up in one place with the latest information about them we could find.

So whether you’re an investor interested in new companies or an innovator searching for opportunities to transform your ideas or inventions into a startup, here is a list—not a ranking—of entrepreneurship competitions in New England that cater to ideas for businesses in the life sciences, clean-tech, and IT sectors. (Please note that the information came from the contest websites or organizers, and in all but one case I didn’t separate cash from in-kind services factored into the value of each prize):

Babson College business plan competitions

Babson College holds annual business plan competitions for undergraduate and graduate students. In fact, this year the Massachusetts business college held its 22nd competition for graduate students, making it one of the oldest business plan contests in the state.

Undergraduate Track:

Deadline: Dates for the 2010 competition weren’t available online, but last year the deadline for entries was in winter and the finals were in spring.

Top prize: $5,000 (2009)

Graduate Track:

Deadline: Not dates specified for 2010 competition.

Top prize: $20,000 (2009) … Next Page »

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