EPIIC honors business planning contest winners

May 14, 2010
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Winners of a Business Revitalization and Innovation Competition sponsored by El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization at UCCS will receive cash awards Friday morning.

Aspire Biotech, Hon-Ac Auto and Access 2 Sign Language will be honored in a unique program where businesses and students are linked to generate ideas to invigorate business. The awards will be given at a 7 a.m. breakfast of the Peak Venture Group at the Garden of the Gods Club.

According to Michael Larson, El Pomar endowed chair of Engineering and Innovation, the EPIIC contest has a far-reaching impact on the region and a sagging economy. It allows students to take new concepts directly to industry and it revitalizes participating companies. In addition, the top companies earn cash awards.

EPIIC will present awards totaling $30,000. The funds come from an endowment provided by El Pomar Foundation in support of EPIIC and its operations. Larson said devoting the funds to bolstering local industry demonstrates the university’s commitment to serve the state and region.

Typical business plan competitions require students to submit ideas for new companies but most are never formed. EPIIC’s more pragmatic approach, he said, benefits existing companies.

“All the participating companies get a roadmap of how to improve some aspect of their enterprise by having students help craft plans to help them revitalize an existing product or service, or to innovate in expanding their operations or offerings,” Larson said.

EPIIC received applications from 26 companies and selected eight to partner with UCCS students and submit full business plans. A panel of judges reviewed the plans and selected winners. The student/business teams made oral presentations and answered questions.

EPIIC will award $15,000 to first place winner Aspire Biotech, $10,000 to second-place winner Hon-Ac Auto and $5,000 to third place winner Access 2 Sign Language. Peak Venture Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging business and enterprise in the Rocky Mountain region, sponsors events involving regional entrepreneurs. The group’s bi-monthly breakfast was selected as the venue to present the awards.

Larson is one of three endowed faculty chairs who staff EPIIC. The others are

Terry Boult, El Pomar Endowed Chair of Innovation and Security, and Tom Duening, El Pomar Endowed Chair of Business and Entrepreneurship.  More information about EPIIC and its mission is available at http://epiic.uccs.edu/.

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