INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 19, 2019) – Applications for the 2020 Innovate WithIN™ pitch competition, a statewide initiative hosted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), Indiana Department of Education, Ball State University and STARTedUP Foundation, are open to high school students across Indiana. Student teams are invited to submit video pitches online before Feb. 7, 2020, and middle school students interested in entrepreneurship are invited to register for workshops offered at the regional competitions in early 2020.
“Competitions like Innovate WithIN not only grow Indiana’s culture of innovation, but also empower our students to cultivate their entrepreneurial ideas in the classroom,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “Through its unique partnership, Innovate WithIN is encouraging young Hoosiers to hone their creativity and critical thinking skills to come up with innovative solutions to 21st century problems. We’re excited to kick off the third annual pitch competition and can’t wait to see the game-changing ideas our students develop.”
Innovate WithIN™, which is in its third year, gives Hoosier students the opportunity to create their own business plans and showcase entrepreneurial ideas throughout the state. The overall winners of the state competition will each receive a $10,000 cash prize, $10,000 toward one year of in-state tuition, internship opportunities and mentoring services.
Participants are invited to work individually or in small groups to submit an innovative idea for a business, product, service or venture. Students will then receive feedback from experienced professionals while competing against like-minded youth from across Indiana through three rounds:
- Round One: Video pitch submissions due Feb. 7
- Round Two: Regional pitch competitions hosted from March 2 to March 13
- Final Round: State pitch competition for regional finalists hosted in April
After completing video pitches and regional competitions, the finalists from each region will be invited to Indianapolis for the final round of the competition, pitching their ideas to a panel of judges from Indiana’s entrepreneurial community. In 2019, Innovate WithIN™ drew 158 online applications from 422 Hoosier students at 88 high schools.
“Ball State University is proud to partner with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Indiana Department of Education, and STARTedUP on Innovate WithIN,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “This partnership encourages innovation, one of our university’s enduring values. Since our founding in 1918 by a family of entrepreneurs, our university has been at the forefront of educating innovative, courageous leaders who have helped the state achieve economic success. This initiative helps set the next generation of entrepreneurs on a trajectory toward fulfilling careers and meaningful lives.”
The overall winners of last year’s competition, Cameron Klein, Colten Mouzin and James Hancock from Rivet High School in Vincennes, created a high-tech, Kevlar backpack that promotes energy efficiency and improves student safety. The group, along with all of the final 11 teams, received mentoring services through the STARTedUP Foundation, which focuses on engaging students and teachers through innovation and entrepreneurship in the classroom. In partnership with the IEDC, STARTedUP will create an immersive student accelerator program for the Innovate WithIN™ state finalists, helping them develop and execute their ideas as well as providing access to the company’s network of mentors and advisers.
In addition to the pitch competition and mentorship opportunities, Innovate WithIN™ offers middle school students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in entrepreneurship through ideation sessions at the regional competitions. Open to grades six through eight, these students will participate in workshops aimed at fostering entrepreneurial and critical-thinking skills while also introducing them to real-world business concepts.
“The Innovate WithIN pitch competition is an excellent platform for students to showcase their innovation and entrepreneurial spirit,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick. “I am proud of our participants and grateful for the educators, parents and communities that continue to broaden our students’ academic experiences.”
As part of Governor Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda to make Indiana a hub for innovation and develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce, the state is committed to helping cultivate innovative ideas in the classroom. The Innovate WithIN™ pitch competition fosters an entrepreneurial spirit among our leaders of tomorrow, empowering students to hone their innovative thinking.
Submit applications and learn more about the program at InnovateWithIN.org.