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For the 14th consecutive year, aspiring entrepreneurs will have a chance to compete for a share of $100,000 in cash and in-kind business service through the 2016 Business Plan Competition facilitated by TecBridge. The competition is open to students from the 14 area colleges and universities as well as non-collegiate teams.

Registration opened at the beginning of February and runs through March 17. The deadline to submit final business plans is April 1. Interested applicants can visit for a registration form and complete competition rules.

Facilitated by TecBridge, the competition is endorsed by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Association of Colleges & Universities and supported by local Chambers of Commerce and regional businesses. CAN BE, the Community Association for New Business Entrepreneurship, has served as a sponsor of the competition for many years.

"CAN BE has been a proud sponsor of the Business Plan Competition since its inception 14 years ago. This important program provides all of the participants, both those on the collegiate level as well as those on the non-collegiate level, with the foundation they need for launching new ventures. The competition not only benefits the winners who receive funding and other support, but also the other contestants who gain valuable experience and advice that will help them in the future," said James Kelshaw, CAN DO’s Director of economic development and entrepreneurship.

The regional competition has the goal of promoting innovative thinking and entrepreneurship among area students and non-collegiate teams while supporting the development of regional businesses in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Students from the area’s 14 colleges and universities, along with non-collegiate teams, are eligible to win their share of the $100,000 in cash and in-kind business services to launch their tech-focused company, all while gaining valuable insight into the world of business and entrepreneurship.

Teams entering the competition will have the opportunity to create, build and pitch their ideas to be judged on four distinct criteria: a pitch deck, an executive summary, a competitive analysis and pro forma financials.

Tiffany Cross Luciani, managing director of TecBridge, said, “As we celebrate our 14th year of the competition we are proud of the community impact and growth on various levels. Each year we are seeing quality over quantity, with plan submission. Ideas are coming to fruition in big ways, with a recent past winner currently raising funds of over $500,000. Another company has over $250,000 in gross revenues. We see job creation and financial impact her in the Northeast Pennsylvania region. On the volunteer side we have grown to over 40 business leaders consisting of entrepreneurs, private industry and economic development. Last year’s awards dinner included a sold out crowd of over 250 people, finalists showcased their companies in an expo style booth, there was a crowd funding component and business sponsored budding high school entrepreneurs to attend. We are looking for an even larger awards dinner this year.”

Participants can also enter a new category, the 2016 Innovation Challenge, where participants are given a challenge and must create a solution based on that information while competing for cash prizes. This intercollegiate challenge is designed to encourage creative solutions for markets within the financial services industry. Participants are presented with a real world problem and are charged to create a viable solution. Teams from the 14 member schools are encouraged to fold in not just entrepreneurs, but information technology, marketing, engineering or any other discipline. 

Participants receive aid through an interactive help session, which will be held on Tuesday, March 22. Finalists will be selected on Thursday, April 14 and will pitch their business idea to a panel of judges on Wednesday, April 20 and Thursday, April 21. On Thursday, April 28, an awards ceremony will be held to congratulate the finalists and announce the winners of both competitions.