High school entrepreneurs across Indiana will pitch their ideas to an expert panel in a competition sponsored by Ball State University in partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and Indiana Department of Education.

Innovate WithIN Pitch Competition will foster entrepreneurialism across Indiana, helping the state’s youth acquire skills and expertise to support long-term growth as the next generation of leaders.

Participants will receive feedback from experienced professionals while competing against like-minded individuals. After online submissions and regional rounds, one innovator or team from each region will be invited to come to Indianapolis to pitch to a panel of judges for a chance to win a prize package worth over $100,000.

The deadline for video submissions is Feb. 10. Brandon Smith, BSH Innovate WithIN Team member, said, “All the information they need is on the Innovate WithIN website – innovatewithin.org – including some tips and tricks for generating and presenting an award-winning idea. After Feb. 10, we’ll narrow down all the ideas submitted to the top 10 for each region. Those 10 competitors/teams from each region will be invited to pitch in person for a chance to move on to the state competition.

Regional competitions will take place March 5-9 and March 12-16 at sites around the state. The finals will be April 9.

BSU President Geoffrey Mearns said Ball State is a natural partner for the project because the university produces smart, resourceful, innovative graduates.

“Ball State faculty work hand-in-hand with our students. They partner on a variety of projects to enhance the entrepreneurial skills and spirit needed to solve challenges communities are facing today,” Mearns said. “Our graduates then go on to have successful careers and meaningful lives.”

Through its nationally recognized Entrepreneurship Center, Ball State has a long history of fostering entrepreneurship, said Jennifer Bott, the Bryan Dean of the Miller College of Business at Ball State.

“Here at Ball State, we don’t just teach entrepreneurship. Rather, we do entrepreneurship,” she said. “Our center has been a leader in entrepreneurship education since 1983, and we are consistently recognized as one of the best in the country. Hundreds of our graduates have gone on to start up their own firms or have played integral roles in the development and expansion of existing companies.”

The pitch competition is part of the state’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. Through this initiative, Indiana is working to build the nation’s top environment for innovative ideas to transform into high-growth companies and industry leaders. Spearheaded by Gov. Eric Holcomb, this plan will strengthen an environment that enables big ideas to thrive in our state, foster talent that will fuel the ideas’ growth and drive investment capital to take those ideas to the market.

“Indiana’s growing list of Hoosier entrepreneurs and innovators continues to show what we have long known: Indiana is a national leader in innovation,” said Elaine Bedel, IEDC president. “To continue our economic momentum, Gov. Holcomb plans to take Indiana to the next level by strengthening and accelerating Hoosier innovation, ensuring Indiana plays a leading role in solving 21st century challenges. As part of our journey to the next level, this program will help foster an entrepreneurial spirit among our leaders of tomorrow, empowering Hoosier students to hone their innovative thinking. We are excited to witness the many talents our young Hoosier entrepreneurs have to showcase and are confident they will play a leading role in Indiana’s future success.”

The Indiana Department of Education, which is dedicated to providing the highest quality of support to Indiana’s schools, teachers, students and parents, also commented.

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