UNCW to Host 3rd Annual Chancellor’s High School Innovation & Entrepreneurship Competition

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

High school students from 18 counties throughout southeastern North Carolina will once again have the opportunity to develop their startup ideas by entering the Chancellor’s High School Innovation & Entrepreneurship Competition. Students in Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Hoke, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Robeson, Scotland and Wayne counties are invited to participate.

Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli started the competition in 2016 in partnership with the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“This competition encourages students to embrace innovation, which will be valuable regardless of their chosen career,” said CIE Director Diane Durance. “It challenges them to think like entrepreneurs and to develop creative solutions that address problems or needs within the community.”

Students will pitch a new product that addresses a societal need using “lean startup” methodology, which is designed to increase chances for success by addressing questions of necessity and business sustainability before developing the actual product.

Teams of one to four students will compete in one of two categories: for-profit enterprise and nonprofit/social enterprise. Each high school may enter one team per category. Each entry consists of a video “rocket pitch” and a written summary of three to five pages.

Finalists in each category will be invited to present in person before a panel of UNCW faculty and members of the business community at the CIE on April 21. Winners will receive cash prizes of $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. Faculty mentors of the winning teams will receive $250.

The winning teams also will receive a trophy, a one-year membership to the CIE and a copy of The Lean Entrepreneur by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits.

Submissions will be accepted via the registration page beginning Feb. 1.

The university’s Strategic Plan emphasizes UNCW’s role as a regional resource and encourages partnerships with K-12 schools and other community organizations. UNCW works closely with schools in southeastern North Carolina to help students develop skills that will be in demand as they enter the workforce. Through the CIE and many academic programs, the university supports entrepreneurs of all ages.

Questions should be directed to competition coordinator Jacqueline Benítez-Galbraith at

-- Tricia Vance