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The State System Business Plan Competition Committee is seeking State System students who are interested in starting or growing their own business in Pennsylvania. 

Individual students or student teams compete by submitting a condensed version of their business plan—a business profile—to be screened by our committee members and, if eligible, scored by our first round of judges. Those students or student teams with the highest scored profiles—known as semi-finalists—will advance to the second round of judges. The second round of judges will score the semi-finalist profiles, and the highest scored profiles will advance as finalists. Finalists will be asked to interview, by phone, with our second round of judges who will then select the top three finishers to be announced and recognized at our Awards Ceremony on April 3, 2019. All Semi-finalists and Finalists will also be recognized and asked to display a poster at the ceremony for cash prizes. 

View examples from past years’ competitions:  

  • Business Profile 1 
  • Business Profile 2

Enter the competition here

Prizes include: 

  • $10,000 for 1st place
  • $5,000 for 2nd place
  • $2,500 for 3rd place
  • $350.00 for 1st place in best poster displayed at Awards Ceremony
  • $150.00 for 2nd place in best poster displayed at Awards Ceremony 

Time line: 

  • Personal Form due: November 30, 2018
  • Business profiles due: February 13, 2019
  • Semi-Finalists announced: February 25, 2019
  • Finalists announced: March 4, 2019
  • Awards Ceremony: April 3, 2019

Steps to completion:

Step 1: Create an account with YouNoodle here

Step 2: Create an application and complete the Personal Form by November 30, 2018

Step 3: Finish and submit your application by February 13, 2019.

Please complete the Personal Form on the application by November 30, 2018. If you do not enter this information by this date at 11:59pm, your application will not progress. See the video below for more detailed info on how to enter. 

If you do not submit your application with all required Business Profile questions completed by February 13, 2019 at 11:59pm, your application will be deemed "incomplete.” Incomplete or deficient Business Profiles will not be continued in the competition process. You are encouraged to attach supplementary documents; however, you are not permitted to refer to "See Attachment” as an answer. 

A Business Plan, if developed, can be added as an attachment near the end of the profile. You are not expected to have a full-fledged Business Plan. However, students who do develop a full-fledged Business plan tend to progress. 

You may rework your Business Profile up until February 13, 2019, 11:59pm. All required questions within the profile must be completed and the profile must be submitted by this deadline to continue in the competition process.   

For technical issues with the YouNoodle platform, students and Committee members should contact the coordinator at 

Participants of the competition agree by registering for the competition to allow PASSHE to use their photographs, name, or details of their entry in publicizing the Business Plan Competition.

1. Eligible applicants must be matriculated undergraduate or graduate students, enrolled full-time or part-time during the Fall 2018 semester, at any of the 14 PA State System of Higher Education universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, West Chester. 

2. A team of contestants must include an active state system student who has a management level role within the business. 

3. Nonprofit businesses must have no less than 2 State Systems students who are founders of the business and with voting rights shall be members of the Board when the business is launched. A copy of the organization's By-Laws can be added to the Business Profile, which will evidence the inclusion of student membership within the Board. 

4. Team Members need not come from the same State System university; teams could be formed from one or more State System universities. 

5. Only active students should be listed as the Team Leader and additional applicants; you will identify other equity ownership members, who are not active State System students, in the management section question in the business profile.

6. An eligible pre-venture or early stage business is one that: has been operating for three years or less to include a business operating as a sole-proprietorship and has cumulative revenue from sales during the last three years (2015-2017) of $75,000 or less. 

7. To qualify for the funding awards the businesses must be located in Pennsylvania. The business' headquarters operations and a majority of key management personnel must be located within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Be sure to indicate your business' actual or planned location by name.  Business incorporation may be made in States other than Pennsylvania, likewise, sales, operations and business related activities can be conducted nationally and internationally. 

8. An individual or team who had previously received third-party funding must disclose the amount and the percentage of equity owned by non-student equity owners, when completing the financial section of the Business Profile. 

9. Each team of contestants must have control over intellectual property (IP) or written permission to use the IP in the business they propose to launch from the person and/or organization who owns the IP. 

Contestants are encouraged to protect the intellectual property they propose to make, distribute or sell in the business profile. If you are unsure of intellectual property issues, then speak with your university's contact. At the same time, contestants must ensure that their proposed development does not infringe on intellectual property of others.  Intellectual property includes copyrights, trademarks/service marks, provisional patents and patents. 

Intent to license another's intellectual property as a component of your product or service is allowed in the business plan competition. 

Prizes include:

  • $10,000 for 1st place
  • $5,000 for 2nd place
  • $2,500 for 3rd place
  • $350.00 for 1st place in best poster displayed at Awards Ceremony
  • $150.00 for 2nd place in best poster displayed at Awards Ceremony 

The awards for the first, second, and third place winners, as well as Video and Poster awards are intended to assist the winners in capitalizing and developing or growing their business venture.

Prize money is available to currently enrolled and matriculating degree candidate students in good standing as of the fall 2018 semester.  Prize money for the Poster awardees will be provided in full amount upon receipt of the awardee's W9 form.  Otherwise, for awardees of the First, Second and Third major cash prizes:

  • A portion, 10%, of the award will be available as cash upon receipt of the W9 form. The balance of the award will be held in escrow by the awardees University. Awards will be transferred to the university from the PA Foundation and will be released to the winner for business related costs with proof of payment.
  • No more than 10% of the award can be used for salaries or wages.
  • Business related costs may include, but are not limited to professional services, such as accounting, legal, or consulting, that are needed to complete the business plan, establish a legal structure, secure financing, and complete related start up tasks.
  • The use of free resources, such as the Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC), on-line training, are recommended and preferred. However, awardees are permitted to use up to 30% of their award for professional development/training that meets the following standards:
    • The development or training must be necessary to obtain a certification or license that is required by the state to operate the winning business.
    • They must be short-term (one to two weeks) intensive training, including continuing education units (CEU) programs, which provide the skills needed to operate their business.
    • Conferences must be less than one week and offer professional development sessions that provide the skills needed to operate their business.
  • Rent and utilities for space to conduct the business.
  • Working capital for business costs, which include advertising, supplies, materials, inventory, web site development, etc.
  • Necessary equipment.
  • No funds may be used to complete degree requirements at any level.

Students who are undergraduates or in graduate school, at the date of the award, have up to three (3) years from the date of the award to expend all awarded funds.  An extension may be allowed based on justification satisfactory to and with approval by the university and Competition Coordinator. 

If a team wins the competition and only one, or several, of the team members proceed with the business development, those who proceed with the development will receive the award benefit. Teams are encouraged to enter into an Operating Agreement, prior to or upon entry into the competition.  If not a sole proprietorship, then companies should provide evidence that a legal entity was actually formed, for example, a Partnership, or Limited Liability Company (LLC).  A W-9 Taxpayer ID form will be required of each cash awardee. (W9 will be provided at the conclusion of the Awards Ceremony on April 3, 2019.) 

Funds in escrow will be deposited at the awardee's university in a secure interest bearing account, with interest to accrue to the awardee.

The Poster Competition takes place as a poster display at the Awards Ceremony on April 3, 2019.

The semi-finalists and finalists of the State System Business Plan Competition are encouraged to represent their plan ideas during a reception immediately preceding the awards presentation. This is an opportunity for each participant, judge, faculty, and, guests to become familiar with the scope of the work and the ideas of each contestant.

The prizes are $350.00 1st place and $150.00 2nd place.

Poster guidelines will be available soon.

Students are encouraged to contact their campus representative for a list of business development resources, such as Small Business Development Centers, and Mentors which may be available to them, as well as any additional information about the State System Business Plan Competition. Your university Entrepreneur Leadership Coordinator or university designee can provide assistance.  Be sure to seek advice as everyone is willing to assist you.

•            Bloomsburg University - Steven Welch (570-389-3952)

•            California University – Mark Lennon (724-938-4371)

•            Cheyney University - Christa Cobb (610-399-2683)

•            Clarion University –Tracy Reinsel (814-393-2060) or Cindy Nellis (814-393-2060)             

•            East Stroudsburg University –Keith Modzelewski (570-422-7953)

•            Edinboro University –  TBD

•            Indiana University - Joette Wisnieski (724-357-5912) or John Lipinski (724-357-2549)

•            Kutztown University – Anne Carroll

•            Lock Haven University - Marcia Kurzynski (570-484-2328)

•            Mansfield University - Gopalan Kutty (570-662-4516 )

•            Millersville University – Nancy Mata (717-871-5718) 

•            Shippensburg University – Thomas Morgan 

•            Slippery Rock University - John Golden (724-738-4352)

•            West Chester University - Pattie Diggin 


For technical issues with the Startup Compete platform, contact:

Pennsylvania's State System Student Business Plan Coordinator at


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