Supporting Budding Entrepreneurs


Media Relations

February 26, 2013

Supporting Budding Entrepreneurs

Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute To Host Annual Business Plan Competition

It is never too early to encourage college students to find a way turn an idea into a viable business, according to the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. To support the concept, the Lally School will host its annual business plan competition for undergraduate and graduate students Feb. 26-27. This year, 20 student teams will have an opportunity to pitch their budding ideas to a panel of judges comprised of community members, faculty, staff, and alumni/ae with varying backgrounds in entrepreneurship and business.

“The Lally School is committed to fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School. “The annual competition is developmental in nature and is intended to be a precursor to other competitions on the traditional business plan competition circuit. This competition is an exciting event where student entrepreneurs compete for both cash prizes and in-kind services. Most important, the competition energizes and develops the student entrepreneurial mindset of the competitors to encourage them to believe that starting a business is a real possibility.”

Earlier in the year, students were invited to submit their business plan concepts.  Additionally, students were able to participate in a series of workshops focused on helping them to prepare for the competition. Topics covered included: addressing business plan essentials, financial information, and pitching strategies. Prior to the competition, participating teams also had an opportunity to sign up for practice sessions where they could receive advice from business executives affiliated with the Severino Center Entrepreneurs- in-Residence program within Lally, and Severino Center coaches. 

Sample business plan ideas are: a GPS-based collision prevention system that uses a combination of sensors and location information to warn a vehicle operator as well as those outside of the vehicle of a probable collision; an online platform to help developers find all publicly available links for pirated apps and assistance for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) removal; a water purification system that may also be developed to simultaneously act as either a primary or secondary battery; and a new design in coral reef aquarium lighting.

Additional ideas include: the development of a waterless automated solar cleaning attachment; a new headlight concept that reduces glare and increases comfort while maintaining visibility; a new biometrics process  to enhance the repair of bone defects, trauma, or fracture; a Web-based vacation itinerary site; a prototyped technology using lighting fixtures that would aid in disinfecting hospital rooms and reduce the costs associated with hospital acquired infections based on new energy-efficient visible spectrum light disinfection technology; and a proprietary partial hand prosthesis system that allows for better functionality and a more comfortable fit.

In its second year, the competition is also sponsored by the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, which helps to foster new generations of budding and successful entrepreneurs through outreach programs, education, and support systems. Centered in the Lally School, the Severino Center lies at the core of the Lally School commitment to entrepreneurship, providing a broad-based platform for entrepreneurs to make the transition from concept to company.

“Students who are involved in the competition received help from a variety of resources in Rensselaer’s Emerging Ventures Ecosystem and surrounding community, including our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, mentors from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Albany, our Rensselaer faculty and staff, local business leaders, and our alumni/ae network,” said Gina O’Connor, associate dean and professor at the Lally School and faculty director of the Severino Center.

“This competition showcases how ideas that emerge from students in any and all of Rensselaer’s schools can get the attention and coaching they need to mature from inventions to promising business opportunities that can bring value to the marketplace,” O’Connor added.

Thus far, the aspiring entrepreneurs have set their sights on winning part of the $15,000 cash prize and in-kind services being awarded to winning undergraduate and graduate teams.

Rensselaer Business Plan Competition ScheduleThe two-day competition will take place on the Rensselaer campus Feb. 26-27. The preliminary round will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 26, from 4 to 8:45 p.m. The undergraduate teams will deliver their presentations in Russell Sage Lab, room 4112.The graduate teams will deliver their presentations in Russell Sage Lab, rooms 5101 and 5510.  During the preliminary round, each team will deliver a 10-minute presentation to coaches and judges. Teams are encouraged to use visual aids. The top eight teams from each group will be announced at 9:30 p.m., and advance to the final round

The final round will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 27, beginning  at 4:15 p.m. The undergraduate teams will deliver their presentations in Ricketts, room 206. The graduate teams will deliver their presentations in Ricketts, room 208. The awards ceremony will take place in Ricketts, room 203, beginning at 9:30p.m.  The top three teams from each group will be announced at that time.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, the undergraduate and graduate first-place winners will have a special opportunity to deliver their presentations to a panel of evaluators featuring members of the Rensselaer campus community. The teams will also have a chance to get feedback from Daymond John, the go-to branding guru on the ABC hit entrepreneurial business show Shark Tank. John will be on the Rensselaer campus on Thursday, Feb. 28, to share his story of success as part of the Rensselaer Union Speakers Forum Program. The program will be held in the Darrin Communications Center, room 308, beginning at 7:30 p.m. A highly regarded marketing expert and author, John is the founder of the iconic fashion FUBU (“For Us By Us”), which effectively created the then-untapped urban apparel market.

For more information about the Lally School of Management and Technology, visit

For more information about the Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship, visit

Note: Tickets are required to attend the Daymond John event, contact the Rensselaer Union Administration Office at (518) 276-6505.


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit