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2012 LaunchTown competition under way


It's time once again for budding student entrepreneurs to get their ideas heard — the LaunchTown™ Entrepreneurship Awards 2012 Business Idea Competition is now under way.

LaunchTown™ has presented more than $100,000 in cash and service prizes since establishing the awards in 2006. The competition brings together Northeast Ohio's top annual event at which venture and angel investors come to hear the region's best business ideas and meet students of all majors. With a focus on technology from graduate student-led teams, the emphasis of the competition is on novel and exciting student-driven business ideas rather than full-scale business plans.

Student teams must be comprised of one graduate student leader, and at least one undergraduate student. Total team membership should be two to five people, and one faculty mentor. In order to participate, teams must complete the online “intent to enter” form at

UA's 2011 winning team of students and collaborators are, from left, Maurice Wadley, Hendrik Heinz, Kshitij C Jha, Balaka Barkakaty, Chaitanya Pratiwada and back, Al Neighorn. Read more about the 2011 competition at: Students honored for innovation, entrepreneurial spirit.

The 2012 competition is based on a science/engineering/technology essay describing the team's business idea (maximum of five to eight pages; brief appendices allowed). The essay must include the technology concept, the business case and the commercialization vision. The three to five highest-ranked teams will be asked to make a public presentation at the competition finals.

Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of the idea (50 percent of the total score – based on uniqueness of the concept, strength of the business case, with an emphasis on the potential impact on Northeast Ohio, and viability/likelihood of commercialization).
  • Marketability of the business (25 percent - including identification and ownership/control of any IP, market estimates and strategy).
  • Essay/presentation quality (25 percent).

The LaunchTown™ Leadership Team and outside judges with experience working with startups will choose the winners.

A total of $10,000 in cash prizes, plus business development consultation from area professionals, will be awarded to the competition winner(s). Finalists will be expected to present their business ideas live at the LaunchTown™ Entrepreneurship Awards on April 16, 2012.

The following Northeast Ohio universities are participating in 2012: The University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, Cleveland State University and Youngstown State University.

Students and professors should follow contest developments and announcements on the LaunchTown™ website at

Here are the 2012 competition dates:

Competition commences: Oct. 17, 2011

Deadline for submitting “intent to enter” at Jan. 31, 2012

Business idea essay submissions due (sent to LaunchTown™ directly): March 7, 2012

Final competition and awards at The University of Akron Martin University Center: April 16, 2012

LaunchTown™ Mission Statement

The LaunchTown™ Entrepreneurship Awards and Leadership Team is committed to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in Northeast Ohio's 150,000+ university and college student population. LaunchTown’s mission is to create an enhanced awareness of the importance and potential of robust entrepreneurial activity, and to celebrate the extraordinary creative talent already in our region. With the support of LaunchTown’s “Business Idea” competition and connections to professional, technological and financial collaborators, we intend this entrepreneurial activity will lead to continued new business creation. Ultimately, through this collaboration we seek to retain our best young talent in the region, build a more vibrant economy and enhance the real-world education for our region’s most innovative and entrepreneurial students.