Mercer Innovation Center Seeking the 'Next Big Idea' Among Student Entrepreneurs

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MACON – The Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) is once again seeking aspiring entrepreneurs to participate in the Next Big Idea competition and will award $9,000 in prizes to students with the best business pitch this spring.

The competition is open to Mercer undergraduates, who may enter as an individual or in teams of up to five people. Each team may submit one idea, and each individual may only participate on one team.

Entrants are encouraged to seek out faculty, alumni, staff, fellow students and members of the local business community to provide feedback on the idea and on the deliverables.

Students may register for the competition by submitting an application by the deadline of Jan. 31 at 5 p.m.

Submissions must include a two-minute video pitch and a one-page business canvas, due on March 14. Finalists will be announced on March 23, and on April 13 at 3 p.m., they will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. The finals, held in the Mercer Innovation Center, will be open to the entire University community to watch and support the student entrepreneurs.

The first-place team will be awarded $6,000, with $2,500 for second place, and a $500 Bear's Choice Award for the video pitch receiving the most votes from Mercer students and faculty on the competition's YouTube channel.

“I have enjoyed watching the businesses that have developed out of the Next Big Idea competition from Mercer students these last couple of years, and I am looking forward to seeing the new ideas that come from this year's competition,” said Dr. Briana Stenard, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship and faculty adviser for the competition.

An information session will be held Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. at the Mercer Innovation Center to discuss the deliverables required for entry.

Additionally, Dr. Stenard and Stephanie Howard, deputy director of the MIC, will be available during office hours to meet with interested students.

For more information, email nextbigidea@mercer.edu, stenard_bs@mercer.edu or howard_sd@mercer.edu, or visit mic.mercer.edu/home/next-big-idea-competition.

About the Mercer Innovation Center

The Mercer Innovation Center is an effort by Mercer University, along with community partners such as the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Birch Communications, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Dr. Hugh F. Smisson III, to advance a culture of innovation and develop a thriving community of entrepreneurs, with a focus on utilizing technology to foster economic growth, create 21st century jobs and attract and retain talent. The Center is an institutional effort – led by the Stetson School of Business and Economics – that crosses academic disciplines and geographic boundaries to draw from all of the University's colleges, schools, departments and operating units. Community memberships are available, as the Center's activities and resources are intended to be available to Mercer students and non-students alike. For more information, visit mic.mercer.edu.

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Kyle Sears