FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 24, 2012) –
A student from Western Kentucky University (WKU) has won an award and cash prize in the Cabinet for Economic
Development’s fifth annual statewide student business plan competition. The competition, called “Idea State U,” is
designed to help identify and support the next generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs.
“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.”
Among the graduate student teams, Jacob Hildebrant took second place in the business concept category, receiving a cash prize
of $2,111. His proposed venture, Higher Education Associates, provides institutions of higher learning with education audits by
enrolled students specially trained and certified to perform objective, comprehensive and anonymous audits.
Additional Western Kentucky University students participating in the competition included the team of Ben Aroh and Nick Burnett.
Their undergraduate business concept, Impact Energy>, markets and installs quiet, compact power plants generating 25-500 kW of onsite
electrical power by burning low-emission natural gas.
Also participating was Elisa Levine in the graduate business plan category. Her proposed venture, Looking Glass Bookstore & Café,
provides a college community with a used bookstore that will offer in-store and online sales. Breakfast, lunch and snack items will be
Western Kentucky University students, with the help of team advisors R. Wilburn Clouse and Krist Schell, spent months developing their
“The Idea State U competition is fast becoming noticed as a venue for success. We've had more competitors with better plans in each year,
and two WKU ventures have become real successes with real sales,” said Krist Schell, director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“The feedback from the judges we received this year was the best yet, and even more valuable have been the contacts that the teams have made
though the spirit of support and professionalism Idea State U creates. We are looking forward to participating in this competition again and
it’s becoming an expected part of our entrepreneurship curriculum here at WKU. Thanks for the wonderful event.”
Students from Western Kentucky University were among more than 70 participants in the competition. In all, “Idea State U” featured 10 teams
of graduate students and 14 teams of undergraduates from seven of Kentucky’s public universities.
Approximately $100,000 in prizes was awarded to student teams who conceived and developed plans for new Kentucky companies. Cash prizes were
weighted to provide larger awards to those teams whose entries are more fully developed and therefore more likely to succeed in the real world.
This emphasis on readiness to compete in the marketplace offers the greatest opportunity to earn a return on the state's investment by
creating real companies that provide real jobs for Kentuckians.
The Cabinet hosts the “Idea State U” competition to encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will help sustain
Kentucky’s future economy in the global marketplace. The $100,000 in awards makes Kentucky’s “Idea State U” one of the nation’s top
state-sponsored business plan competitions.
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.