MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — College student entrepreneurs across the state are readying their brilliant ideas for the 2012-13 West Virginia Business Plan Competition, a competition that will award a $10,000 first prize in each of two categories. Students in all of the state’s four-year higher education institutions have until September 28 to submit their entries for the competition.

Now in its seventh year, the West Virginia Business Plan Competition is hosted statewide by the West Virginia University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the College of Business and Economics. Prizes are awarded to the top business plan in each of two categories, including Lifestyle & Innovation and Hospitality & Tourism. All winning teams in the competition are required to start their businesses in West Virginia.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the competition promotes entrepreneurial thinking and is a source of ideas that turn into real businesses.

“The West Virginia Business Plan Competition presents our students with a wonderful opportunity to take an idea, develop a plan, and make it a reality,” Gov. Tomblin said. “The renewed sense of resourcefulness and innovation our students show during this competition gives us a glimpse of the successes tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders are poised to deliver. Together, they will ensure West Virginia’s economy remains diverse and strong.”

The competition spans the academic year, and will award two professional services packages worth more than $6,000 each in addition to the two $10,000 first prizes.

Students who enter the competition must submit a three- to five-page summary of their business idea no later than September 28 at noon. The Business Plan Competition is open to any fulltime college student attending a four-year, degree-granting West Virginia institution. From the field of entries, up to 10 semi-finalist teams in each category will be selected and announced in mid-October.

“We had a record number of entries last year, 117 in all,” said Steven Cutright, director of the WVU Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “The wave of interest in entrepreneurship continues to grow at the high school and college levels nationwide, and we’re looking forward to seeing truly innovative business plans.”

A total of 536 teams from 14 different West Virginia colleges and universities have participated in the statewide business plan competition in six years. During that time, more than 100 volunteers from the statewide and regional business communities have assisted student teams. As a result of the competition, 20 finalist teams have gone on to start West Virginia-based businesses.

Students of any major and class rank may compete, and all that is required to enter is a business idea. There are three elimination rounds and, as students progress through the competition, Cutright emphasized that participants receive education and support to turn their idea into a viable business plan. To be eligible for advancement in the competition, all submitted business proposals must be located in West Virginia.

“Past participants in this competition will tell you that the experience they gained during the course of the event will stick with them the rest of their lives,” Cutright said. “The different phases of the competition, the experience of having access to competition judges that are business professionals and the evolution of the business idea itself are all invaluable.”

For further information on the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, go to .