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WVU claims 22 semifinalists in Statewide Business Plan Competition

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West Virginia University has advanced 22 semifinalists among the 32 teams of collegiate entrepreneurs that have made it to the semifinal round of the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition.

Each of the three competitive categories — STEM, Lifestyle & Innovation and Hospitality & Tourism — has semifinalists that have advanced to the second round of competition where they will vie for three $10,000 grand prizes.

WVU claims six semifinalists in the STEM category, 11 in the Lifestyle & Innovation category and five in Hospitality & Tourism.

"We have a real wave of momentum going into the second round, due to the record 235 entries in this year's competition," said Steven Cutright, director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.

The WVU business school is the host for the annual competition that runs throughout the collegiate academic year.

"The new STEM category created greater opportunity for a wider spectrum of students to submit entries, and the entries in all three categories are strong in this year's competition," Cutright said. "The entries really show ingenuity and entrepreneurial focus."

The Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition is open to all majors at West Virginia's 19 four-year higher education institutions. Teams may have one to four members who are full-time students, and winners must start their businesses in West Virginia.

The 235 entries submitted this year surpassed last year's 141 entries.

The second round of competition is scheduled for Nov. 22 at Marshall University and will consist of three levels. Each team must submit a written feasibility study, present a two-minute "elevator pitch" of their business idea and participate in a series of interviews with business professionals to discuss their business plan.

The top five teams in each category will advance to the final round, and the prizes will be awarded after the final found of competition April 4 in Morgantown.