The University of Vermont announced Sept. 5 the Vermont Pitch Challenge, a new entrepreneurial-focused competition that gives high school students from across the world in grades 10-12 a chance to pitch innovative and impactful business plans — all while competing for individual cash prizes and full tuition scholarships to UVM, valued at up to $180,000.
The new program is free to enter and offers young students a unique opportunity to learn from UVM faculty and alumni as well as top entrepreneurial experts about how to write a business plan, create a compelling pitch, and achieve their ultimate career goals.
The Vermont Pitch Challenge will be open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors — as individuals or as teams of up to three. (This competition is separate and should not to be confused with the Joy and Jerry Meyers Cup, a similar competition designed specifically for UVM undergraduates.)
Monthly Entrepreneurial Exchange webinars kicked off the new pitch program on Sept. 12, where members of the UVM Entrepreneurship Club and CFES introduced the Vermont Pitch Challenge. During the monthly webinars, students will get inspired and gain valuable business insights from expert entrepreneurs including Lisa Lindahl, co-inventor of the first sports bra and a National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee. They will also learn how to build a successful business model and create a compelling pitch. All seven Entrepreneurial Exchange webinars will build toward the Pitch Challenge’s formal application opening date on Jan. 15 and conclude in March, when the five individuals/teams of finalists are announced.
“The Vermont Pitch Challenge is a great new platform for young minds to bring their creativity and entrepreneurial skills to life,” said Dr. Jay Jacobs, vice provost for enrollment management at UVM. “We believe in nurturing the next generation of innovators and providing them with the tools and mentorship needed to turn their ideas into reality, and this unique opportunity achieves exactly that. Hopefully this program highlights how UVM can help students achieve their innovation dreams.”
Current UVM students from the Academic Research Commercialization (ARC) program and the Entrepreneur Club will introduce the challenge to high schoolers, judge the submissions, and mentor the finalists as they prepare to pitch in-person at UVM. Judging will be based on whether the proposed business offers a solution to a problem faced in the target market, creates a positive impact, delivers something different to the market, and how effectively it achieves the participants’ stated goals.
“As a team lead of the ARC program at UVM, my own entrepreneurial endeavors wouldn’t have taken form without the guidance and support that UVM provides to students like faculty mentorship, paid internships, and exposure at pitch events,” said Mason Tuff, a current UVM student and director of the ARC program. “I’m super excited to help kick off this new program for high school students. It’s a great way to discover young entrepreneurs and support their journey from the beginning of a new business concept to an actual start up.”
The top five individuals/teams for the Vermont Pitch Challenge will be announced in March. These teams will then pitch their business plans in-person at UVM on Thursday, April 4, where the grand prize winner/s will be announced. Prizes will be awarded to all individual members of each of the five winning teams. First-place students will each earn a four-year tuition scholarship to the University of Vermont, valued at up to $180,000; second and third place winners will each receive a $5,000 check; fourth and fifth place winners will each receive a $1,000 check.
Receipts of the grand prize is contingent upon admission to the University of Vermont. Winning the Vermont Pitch Challenge does not constitute automatic admission to UVM. For the full Challenge timeline and additional details, visit: uvm.edu/admissions/undergraduate/vermont-pitch-challenge.