Competition Challenges High School Students to Become Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

UNCW invites high school students in southeastern North Carolina to a competition of ideas in the second annual Chancellor’s High School Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. Student teams will develop and pitch their concept for a product, technology or service that benefits society or the economy.

The event is sponsored by UNCW in partnership with Chancellor Jose Sartarelli and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“This competition challenges high school students to discover their capacity to innovate and to turn their original ideas into a viable business plan,” Sartarelli said. “In doing so, they also develop skills that will have application beyond the traditional business world, whatever their chosen career may be.”

Teams of one to four students will compete in one of two tracks: for-profit enterprise, a business whose goal is to solve a social problem while also making a profit; and social enterprise, a nonprofit venture that applies entrepreneurial strategies to improve human, social or environmental well-being. One team per high school may compete in each track.

The competition covers 17 school districts: Bladen, Brunswick, Camp Lejeune, Carteret, Clinton, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Jones, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico Pender, Sampson, Wayne and Whiteville. Each team will pitch an idea that addresses a specific problem. Proposals should address why the product, technology or service is needed, its value to society, a path to market, cost and the type of feedback the concept has received as it was developed.

Cash prizes will be awarded - $1,500 for first place; $1,000 for second place; and $500 for third place. Winning teams will also receive a one-year membership to the CIE.

Last year’s for-profit track winner was Candy Compass, conceived by Aidan Shepard and Jackson Smades of Topsail High School. The concept, packaging candy from different countries, is now online as a business with Shepard as founder. First place in the social enterprise track was KAZ Bows, pitched by Zoila Meraz Cano, Keylin Isaac and Audry Hernandez of Duplin Early College.

Interested high school students must register by Feb. 22, 2017. Teams will be required to submit a written proposal and video pitch for their business or social concept by March 10. The five finalists in each of the two tracks will present their proposal at the CIE on April 22.

-- Tricia Vance