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Gigot Center launches contest

Puja Parikh | Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dozens of Notre Dame students are brainstorming to come up with their best entrepreneurial ideas after the inaugural Notre Dame Ideas Challenge began Sept. 8 with a kickoff event at Legends.

The Ideas Challenge, which allows students to make their pitch on a variety of concepts, is organized by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. This new program supplements The Center’s annual Notre Dame Business Plan Competitions.

“The idea can be from any discipline and is designed to encourage students to think outside the box – to stretch their mind as to what is possible,” said Karen Slaggert, senior administrative assistant at the Gigot Center. “Our desire is to reach out to all students who really might want to make a difference in the world.”

The competition is designed to attract participants from across the University.

“[The] Ideas Challenge is open to all Notre Dame graduate and undergraduate students,” Slaggert said. “Designed to be less intimidating than our annual Business Plan Competition, the Ideas Challenge is perfect for students in all colleges and all majors on campus.”

Students compete in one of five categories. The first category, called Lend a Hand, accepts ideas likely to have a positive impact on the world. The technical category is for concepts likely to be developed into a viable product.

The creative idea category takes ideas that solve a problem. The At Your Service category takes the concept most likely to result in a viable service organization. The final category, Big Bucks, looks for the idea most likely to result in a viable company, generating profits and new jobs.

Judges will determine the top three ideas in each of the five categories. $500 will be awarded for first place, $250 for second place, and $125 for third place in each of the five categories.

The top 20 ideas submitted from all categories will be invited to compete in the Elevator Pitch Competition, where participants will have two minutes to sell their idea to an investor. The top three winners of The Elevator Pitch Competition will receive an additional $1750 in prize money.

The first training session for the Ideas Challenge is Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Legends. Management Professor Matt Bloom will present a lecture on “How Ideas Change the World.”

Slaggert said she is looking forward to the session.

“We expect even more [students] at the session … Prof. Bloom has consistently won awards for teaching so I’m sure the students will come to hear him,” she said.

The Ideas Challenge is currently open for registrations. The deadline for entering the Ideas Challenge and Business Plan Competition is Oct. 6.