The University of North Georgia's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is calling for competitors to pitch ideas for a new business to a panel of judges who will award cash prizes.
The "Start It Up" challenge is open to UNG students, faculty, staff, and alumni as well as entrepreneurs within Lumpkin, Hall, Dawson, Forsyth, Gilmer, and Fannin counties according to Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Dr. Reuben Boling.
"This challenge is an excellent way for university constituents and community members to capitalize on those great business ideas that sometimes struggle to get off the ground," said Boling.
"By doing this, we are also sowing directly into the economic future of our region, and ensuring that northeast Georgia remains a strong hub for small businesses."
The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is partnering with MDD Holdings Inc. of Dahlonega to offer a total of $17,500 for the competition's top finishers.
First place in the judging will receive $10,000 to support a business venture. Second place will receive $5,000, and third place will receive $2,500.
President of MDD Holdings and UNG alumnus, Raj Sagoo, helped bring the idea to life.
"After I graduated in August 2016, I wanted to stay in the area and help address what I saw as a lack of economic growth," Sagoo said.
"Students so often come up with great ideas while they are in college, but either can't or don't follow through on them. This challenge looked like a perfect opportunity to harness these ideas and stimulate economic growth in the area by showing others that they should be investing in this region."
But the competition is not intended solely for UNG students.
"The registration just opened so I do not have specific numbers on entries, but I can tell you that the action has been across the board in regards to people asking questions about the contest," said Dr. Boling of the number of contestants expected that are students and community members.
"We want people to put in ideas, whether it is health care related, retail location, some new technology, all of those
are possibilities that could be submitted for consideration."
The contest is currently accepting applications, which are due by May 15.
The pitch challenge will run from May 22 through late September, and will culminate on Sept. 27 with the championship round; the end of the pitch challenge will be followed the next day with the beginning of the StartItUp Conference.
The conference brings together experienced entrepreneurs, college and high school students, faculty, staff, and community entrepreneurs in an effort to share knowledge, experiences and a passion for startups and entrepreneurship according to a release from UNG.