University of Maryland $50K Business Plan Competition

    The $50K Business Plan Competition is hosted by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, a division of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. This is different from the majority of university-based competitions, which are hosted by the universities’ business schools.

    The competition seeks to find businesses that have substantial growth potential. Organizers say they look for technology-based ventures and ones that have pervasive concepts and the possibility of dominating a substantial niche market, because these are the ones that have the greatest chance of growth and scale.

    The $50,000 yearly prize mentioned in the contest name is split between three divisions: Undergraduates, Faculty and Graduate Students, and Young Alumni. All of the teams must have a principal officer with one of these ties to the University of Maryland. For a company to qualify for the Undergraduate division, all members of the team must be undergraduates. The Young Alumni division for the 2007 contest was open to anyone who graduated from U of M (bachelors or graduate degree) between May 1999 and December 2006.

    Additionally, there are eligibility requirements for the companies themselves. They might be already in existence, but they may not have annual revenues of more than $1 million per year. This is a common rule in business plan competitions. Firms receiving venture capital are also not eligible.

    The $50K Business Plan Competition follows the familiar format of all contestants submitting a 3-5 page executive summary, several semi-finalists being chosen to write full business plans, and finalists getting the chance to present their plan in front of live judges. In the 2007 competition, the first summaries were due on February 11, the semifinalists announced on February 19, full plans due for semifinalists on March 18, finalists announced on March 26, and the finalist presentations before the judges on April 27.