FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 24, 2012) –
Graduate and undergraduate students from Kentucky’s state universities presented their business concepts and plans
this past weekend during a two-day competition designed to identify and support the next generation of Kentucky
innovators and entrepreneurs.
The fifth annual “Idea State U”, hosted by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development in Lexington, featured
plans for 24 new Kentucky companies and offered up to $100,000 in prize money.
More than 70 students participated, comprising 10 teams of graduate students and 14 teams of undergraduates from
seven Kentucky public universities. With the help of university advisors, students spent months developing either
business concepts or formal business plans, which were presented to panels of business experts serving as volunteer
judges for the competition.
“I congratulate the winners and applaud the efforts of all who participated in the Idea State U competition,” said
Gov. Steve Beshear. “This type of innovative and entrepreneurial spirit will play a key role in future economic development.
We wish these students the best as they pursue their dreams of putting these promising business plans into action.”
Student entries described proposed ventures for a wide variety of products and services, including a noninvasive test
for lung cancer, a machine that lets customers create custom T-shirt designs in minutes, and an eco-friendly apartment
development, just to name a few.
“The Idea State U competition provides the students with three things every entrepreneur needs: inspiration, connections,
and encouragement,” said James Fugitte, founder and CEO of Wind Energy Corporation, who has served as a judge at all five
competitions. “The event teaches them to think outside the box, it connects them to Kentucky’s investment and business
communities, and it encourages them to develop and test their ideas so that they can be evaluated and improved.”
Cash prizes are weighted to provide larger awards to those teams whose entries are more fully developed and therefore
more likely to succeed, and most of the money can only be claimed as reimbursements for specified business expenses after
the team forms a legal company in Kentucky. The emphasis on readiness to compete in the marketplace maximizes the
opportunity to earn a return on the state’s investment by creating real companies that provide real jobs for Kentuckians.
Several start-up companies have formed after competing in one of the four previous Idea State U events.
“After competing in last year’s Idea State U with a concept for my new venture and now this year with a full business
plan, the competition helped me gain the experience and confidence necessary to open my own store,” said Solankè Bomani,
owner of The Butter Factory in Lexington. “The judges’ advice and feedback helped me fine-tune my plan, which I believe over
the long run will help me be successful.”
The store, located at 1037 N. Limestone in Lexington, features a selection of hand-made natural cleansing and moisturizing
products for hair and skin.
The top award of $35,555 was presented to Kentucky Chia, a graduate student team from the University of Louisville, for a
business plan to create a wholesale distributor of domestically grown chia seeds, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and
soluble fiber. Chia seeds can serve as a new cash crop for farmers and provide a supplement for horses to help prevent colic
Other top-rated proposed ventures include:
In addition, the Governor’s Innovation Award was presented to Northern Kentucky University’s Tamara Dickerson and Stephanie Ward for the
Inxpression undergraduate business plan. This trophy is presented each year to the team with the business venture judged to best
demonstrate innovative thinking and possess a “wow” factor.
In response to this annual competition, several schools have enhanced their existing programs or established new entrepreneurship courses
to develop business plans that will compete at future Idea State U events.
For more information, visit www.IdeaStateU.com.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for
creating new jobs and new investment in the state. New business investment in Kentucky in 2010 totaled
more than $2 billion with the creation of nearly 11,900 new jobs. Information on available development
sites, workforce training,incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other
resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.