Students interested in entrepreneurship are invited to apply now for the Virginia Tech Entrepreneur Challenge, which offers more than $60,000 in cash and prizes, including a $25,000 grand prize for the best business model.

The Entrepreneur Challenge, hosted by the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Pamplin College of Business, is open to all Virginia Tech students. Working in teams, students develop and pitch their business ideas, receive mentoring from experts, and are judged by industry professionals.

The registration deadline is Feb. 4, 2018, but interested students should sign up now at apexcie.vt.edu/entrepreneurchallenge to secure a spot in the preliminaries and receive priority access to workshops, coaching, and resources. The challenge finals will be held on March 24, 2018, in Blacksburg.

“The challenge is a fantastic opportunity for any Virginia Tech undergraduate or graduate student who is interested in innovative problem solving, technology, and small business — and who wants to change the world,” said Derick Maggard, Apex CIE executive director.

“The students get to develop their ideas and business literacy while getting a shot at winning funding to launch startups and an opportunity to network with industry innovators and investors, some of whom are alumni,” Maggard said.

More than 400 students have competed and more than 220 industry leaders have served as mentors and judges since the challenge was launched in 2014.

The business ideas pitched have targeted problems in health care and wellness, the future of energy, education and workforce development, the digital economy and cyber security, transportation and autonomous systems technology, and the environment and natural resources.

“It is exciting to see students unleash their creativity and pitch ideas to transform industry and solve global challenges,” Maggard said.

The Entrepreneur Challenge combines three competitions that were traditionally held in the spring: the Union Innovation Challenge, the Atlantic Coast Conference InVenture Prize (internal or Virginia Tech) competition, and the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Entrepreneurship Challenge Semifinals.

Combining the competitions will allow the winners of the Entrepreneur Challenge to be eligible to compete in the ACC InVenture Prize national competition and in the Virginia Tech Global Entrepreneur Challenge

Maggard thanked 1901 Group for their generous support of the challenge. For sponsorship opportunities, contact him at dmaggard@vt.edu or (540) 231-1328.

For more information about the challenge, please contact Meghan Pfleiderer, new venture program manager, at megp@vt.edu or (540) 231-1328.