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Student Entrepreneurs From Around Globe to Compete While Building Lasting Connections

Pictured left to right: 2018 Global Challenge Judges, Jack Sepple, Lisa Garcia, with Team GRACE, Federico Jensen, Alex Carimán, Cedric Little (faculty member), and Felipe Nagel, as well as Judges Tim Meyers and Todd Headley.

Future entrepreneurs from around the world will showcase their best ideas at Virginia Tech this summer at the annual Global Entrepreneur Partnership.

The 10th annual celebration includes the VT Global Entrepreneur Challenge, a pitch competition that allows student teams to present their ideas for a $25,000 grand prize at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. The event will be held Aug. 22-31 and is hosted by Outreach and International Affairs and VT KnowledgeWorks.

“The Challenge celebrates the energy and innovation of university students and enhances their understanding of what it takes to launch a successful business venture,” said Jim Flowers, executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks. “As these young people grow to become leaders in their respective home regions, they carry with them a set of connections from this event that will enhance global cooperation, international trade, and cultural sensitivity for years to come.”

Student teams will present their business concepts for $45,000 in cash prizes, sponsored by Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, The Branch Group, Inc., Carilion Clinic, and First Piedmont Corporation.  The prizes include:

  • $15,000 Advanced Manufacturing Award for the most outstanding tangible product
  • $15,000 Information Technology Award for the most outstanding service
  • $10,000 awarded as an additional grand prize for one of the two teams that receive the Advanced Manufacturing Award or the Information Technology Award
  • $5,000 People’s Choice Award

During their stay in Blacksburg, students are housed with local families, get coaching from successful technology companies, and build friendships with each other and with Virginia Tech students during social gatherings. Students also take a regional trip that includes stops in Newport News, Danville, and Roanoke.

“They will remember the close ties they have built with the Virginia cities that have hosted them.  When the time comes for them to build business ties in the U.S., we will be very high on their personal lists,” Flowers said.

Faculty attendees will participate in a multi-university roundtable where they will discuss entrepreneurship programs, including best practices, innovations, and initiatives.  The event provides many opportunities for university-to-university networking to help build future collaboration and partnerships.

Roberto Napoli, assistant to the rector at the University of Trento, Italy, has participated in the event for five years. “Many successful joint projects have been developed with the colleagues met during this event that I dare call my friends now,” he said.

Other event sponsors include the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. Program support sponsors include Automation Creations, Inc., City of Roanoke, Click & PledgeG.J. Hopkins, Inc., Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, Plastics One, Shentel, SunTrust Bank, Third Security, LLC, Union Bank & Trust, Virginia Tech College of Science, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, VPT, Inc., Wordsprint Marketing Services.

For more information contact Lindsey Eversole, global partnership manager, at [email protected].

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