New InNOLEvation Business Plan Challenge offers a total of $250,000 in prizes

Florida State University students with grand ambitions and great business plans stand to win a portion of $250,000 in cash and prizes in one of the world’s largest and richest business plan competitions — the new InNOLEvation Challenge, a.k.a. The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

Unique among the elite global business-plan competitions, which are open solely to graduate students, the InNOLEvation Challenge is open to undergraduates as well. Also unique is the fact that the competition is open only to current Florida State students. Organized by The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, the InNOLEvation Challenge Kick-Off event and a business abstract workshop will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The Jim Moran Institute in the FSU College of Business urges entrepreneurial-minded students from across campus to compete in the 2011 InNOLEvation Challenge. The institute and a host of corporate sponsors have joined forces to sponsor the high-stakes competition, contributing more than $250,000 in cash and in-kind services to be awarded to the creators of the top 10 student business plans. Competition organizers anticipate that at least 100 teams will submit business abstracts.

“This is an opportunity for students to put their innovative ideas out there to be evaluated and to learn how to develop the best approaches to selling those ideas to venture capitalists and other potential backers,” said Tim R. Holcomb, The Jim Moran Institute’s executive director and the university’s Jim Moran Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship. “This also is a way to cultivate creative new businesses that could potentially create new jobs in our community.”

The main purpose of the InNOLEvation Business Plan Challenge is to give budding entrepreneurs real-world experience in fine-tuning business plans. They will also work to develop successful “elevator pitches” that will attract start-up funding from early-stage investors and venture capital firms in order to launch their new businesses.

Participants will be judged by a panel of potential investors, venture capital firms, entrepreneurs and FSU faculty members. The InNOLEvation Challenge events, which include business development workshops, mentoring and networking with potential investors, will start on Sept. 27 and lead up to the Shark Tank Finale business plan presentation and judging in April 2012.

Tim R. Holcomb

The competition consists of three stages, beginning with the kickoff and workshop:

Stage 1 (Sept. 27 – Oct. 14)

  • Business abstract workshop, Sept. 27
  • Business abstract submittal, Oct. 14
  • Judging; the 40 best business plans advance to Stage 2.

Stage 2 (Oct. 14 – April 2012)

  • Business plan workshops
  • Cultivation of the best ideas
  • Business-plan development training
  • Ongoing mentoring

Stage 3, “Shark Tank” Finale (April 13, 2012)

  • Business plan judging (ten 30-minute presentations with Q&A session)
  • Morning breakout sessions (winners advance to afternoon session)
  • Final presentations in front of potential investors
  • Cash will be awarded to the 10 best teams of entrepreneurs.

The InNOLEvation Challenge follows on the heels of Florida State’s Entrepreneurship Week, now known to most as eWeek. Both reflect the university’s mission to transform itself into “the Entrepreneurial University.” The mission places a campuswide emphasis on creating a culture among students, faculty and staff that embraces entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. It also supports the concept that those who take calculated risks can gain enormous benefit.

Although sponsors already have contributed generously to support the InNOLEvation Challenge, The Jim Moran Institute continues to accept contributions from businesses that want to encourage and promote innovation by FSU students up until the finale in April. Contributions can be made by contacting Professor Holcomb at (850) 644-7851 or

A detailed schedule and information about entering or sponsoring the competition is available at
For additional information, contact Ron Frazier, an Assistant in Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur in Residence with The Jim Moran Institute, at (850) 556-1897, or; or Barbara Ash, a communications/media relations manager for the College of Business, at (850) 728-7014 or