Applications for the 2021 Innovate WithIN™ pitch competition, a statewide initiative hosted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and the STARTedUP Foundation, are open to high school students across Indiana. Applications opened earlier this year, and student teams are encouraged to continue submitting video pitches before Feb. 28.
“Innovate WithIN™ gets Hoosier students plugged in to Indiana’s thriving and engaged entrepreneurial community,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “This program fosters a pioneering spirit among our leaders of tomorrow, and every year I’m amazed by the innovative ideas these students pitch and the hard work they put into their business plans.”
Innovate WithIN™, which is in its fourth year, gives Hoosier students the opportunity to create their own business plans and showcase entrepreneurial ideas throughout the state. The overall winners of the state competition will each receive a $10,000 cash prize, $10,000 toward one year of in-state tuition, college scholarship award opportunities, internship opportunities, mentoring services and more.
Participants are invited to work individually or in small groups to submit an innovative idea for a business, product, service or venture. Students will then receive feedback from experienced professionals while competing against like-minded youth from across Indiana through three rounds:
• Round One: Video pitch submissions due Feb. 28
• Round Two: Virtual regional pitch competitions hosted from April 19 to April 30
• Final Round: State pitch competition for regional finalists hosted in June
New this year, all participating students will have access to a brief, online companion course, and regional winners will participate in a virtual bootcamp to help students hone their ideas and prepare for their state pitch presentations. In addition, regional winners will also receive guided counseling from the Indiana Small Business Development Center (Indiana SBDC) to help refine their business model and pitch, and receive no-cost market research.
The overall winners of last year’s competition, Megan Jones, Joshua Breitsprecher and Abigale Haluska won first place representing Hobart High School, creating the Remedy Glove, an innovative therapeutic glove equipped with vibration, compression and heating features. The team came up with its idea after seeing friends and family members struggle with arthritis that restricted common everyday tasks. The group, along with all of the final 11 teams, received mentoring services through the STARTedUP Foundation, which focuses on engaging students and teachers through innovation and entrepreneurship in the classroom.
“Our goal is to create a statewide ecosystem of support to help equip the next generation of entrepreneurs by encouraging students to see problems as opportunities,” said Don Wettrick, founder and CEO of STARTedUP. “It’s been amazing to see the variety of community and industry partners who have come together to assist the students as they bring their ideas to life.”
In 2020, Innovate WithIN™ drew 152 online applications from 419 Hoosier students at 50 high schools. Students can submit applications and learn more details about the program at InnovateWithIN.org.