Thursday, January 26, 2012

Charlotte Venture Challenge launches $100,000 business plan competition

Heads-up, entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs:

The Charlotte Venture Challenge business innovation competition, formerly known as Five Ventures, is accepting applications from early-stage entrepreneurial companies until Feb. 29.

The Challenge, organized by UNC Charlotte's Charlotte Research Institute and the Ben Craig Center, will award $100,000 in prize money -- a serious boost from previous years -- to the winning companies in six categories: new energy and high-tech; IT and informatics; life and biotech sciences; consumer products and services; student ventures; and social enterprises.

The competition includes a series of five workshops for registered firms beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Over the course of three months, participants will learn about opportunity assessments, receive mentoring and connect with other entrepreneurs. The finals and awards will be held on April 19.

In its 11th year, the Challenge has been renamed to encompass a broader mission and to reflect new sponsors and increased prize money.

The competition has an impressive pedigree:

YAP Inc., a 2006 competitor, was sold to last fall for an undisclosed price. Founded by brothers Victor and Igor Jablokov, YAP developed a cloud-based mobile speech recognition platform.

SoyMeds Inc., a 2006 winner and a UNCC Biology Department spinout, recently won the life sciences company award from the N.C. Technology Association.

Infosense, a 2010 competitor, and MailVu, the 2011 winner, both were awarded grants of up to $50,000 from NC IDEA last fall. NC IDEA recognizes promising tech companies.

To apply, visit For more info, contact Devin Collins at 704-250-5753 or