Michigan Business Challenge Kicks Off 2015 Competition with Addition of Social Impact Track

Shannon Beeman
October 27, 2014

The Institute has announced the kick off of its annual business plan competition, the Michigan Business Challenge. Now in its 32nd year, the Challenge continues to evolve and in response to heightened interest in start-ups that at their core have a social mission, this year organizers have added a social impact track to the competition. This new track is presented in partnership with the Erb Institute and the Center for Social Impact.

The annual Michigan Business Challenge is a business plan competition that exposes students to a rigorous, multi-phase business development and planning process. More than 80 student teams from a number of different disciplines and schools are expected to participate. These teams will have the opportunity to win cash prizes totaling more than $75,000, gain feedback from judges and expand their business network with entrepreneurs and prospective investors. Previous winners include Movellus Circuits, which is developing patent-pending clock generator technology for the microprocessor market;  Focus, which offers TRAINR – a smartwatch that serves as a personal trainer; and MyDerm Portal an online application that helps dermatology physicians triage patients over the internet while still delivering quality healthcare.

The new social impact track was created to stimulate the creation of new businesses, products or services that prioritize social and/or environmental considerations. The $15,000 social impact award will recognize the business plan that best pursues a mission-driven goal through its product/service offerings and underlying operations of the firm, which may be either for- or not-for-profit. The winning team’s plan will clearly demonstrate clarity and viability of the business plan; social and/or environmental benefits of the business enterprise, its products or services; social and/or environmental return on investment and ability of the management team to implement the plan.

“There is a major shift happening in the marketplace and it’s important that our business plan competition and other programming encompass individuals that are striving to create businesses with social impact,” said Sarika Gupta, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “We’re proud to partner with Erb and the Center for Social Impact and are confident that we will see many promising social ventures advance through the multiple phases of the competition.”

Teams may be comprised of individuals from the general public or university faculty; however, they must have at least one University of Michigan student in order to compete and that student is responsible for presenting at each round of competition. Michigan Business Challenge Intent to Compete submissions are due by Monday, Nov. 17 at 8:00 a.m. Round One of the competition will take place on Friday, Dec. 5. Teams selected to advance to Round Two (Jan. 23), the Semi-finals and Finals (Feb. 20), will have the opportunity to write a marketing and financial overview for their company and complete a business plan. During each round, teams will pitch to a panel of judges comprised of entrepreneurs and investors. For more information on the competition, deadlines, process and eligibility, visit: www.zli.bus.umich.edu/.