A final showdown of student startups has been set, as budding entrepreneurs from across the University of Missouri campus network compete for financial support.
“It brings a lot of those best practices together from all four campuses and really showcases all the great work that’s going on in the system to promote entrepreneurship,” said Andy Heise, assistant director of the UMKC Bloch School’s Regnier Institute.
With anticipation mounting, a pitch competition is set for April 5 in Columbia, Missouri, where 12 finalists will compete for a $15,000 grand prize –– the final round of activity for the University of Missouri system’s new student accelerator program, Entrepreneur Quest (EQ).
Formally launched in October, EQ accepted 50 applicants from each of the four UM campuses –– University of Missouri, UMKC, UMSL, and Missouri S&T.
A second round demo day saw 10 finalists from the schools compete earlier this month, where another $15,000 prize was awarded.
Click here to learn more about the EQ process.
“[Through EQ and other UMKC programs] we really try to get [students] ready to engage in all of those other community, entrepreneur support organizations and the goal is that we can keep them here,” Heise said of the way the school is actively working to churn the startup talent pool in Kansas City.
A first for the university system, the EQ accelerator enables students to work on the in-depth development of their companies as opposed to other pitch competitions and programs on individual campuses, Heise said.
“[University president] Mun Choi, brought this model with him from his previous institution in Connecticut to try to spur innovation and entrepreneurship across all four campuses and for the state of Missouri,” Heise explained.
Such an effort has been met with success so far, he added.
Through the inaugural competition, EQ has welcomed student entrepreneurs with diverse endeavors –– with startups required to be original ideas and not just takes on traditional or existing business models –– a result of the decision to offer the program system-wide and beyond UMKC and the Bloch School of business, Heise said.
“Everything from, you know, social welfare, health, family support systems, all the way to an inflight tool for a new technology that’s being mandated in 2020 –– it’s just a broad range of ventures,” he said.
Click here to get tickets to the EQ pitch competition.