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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Business 101: How One Area Business School is Working to Support High School Entrepreneurs


Media Relations

May 29, 2013

Business 101: How One Area Business School is Working to Support High School Entrepreneurs

Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute To Host Business Plan Competition May 29


It’s never too early for young students to 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 high school students May 29. Sixty-eight students representing 25 teams will have an opportunity to pitch their budding ideas to a panel of management scholars and area business leaders.

The teams are comprised of high school students from Capital Region high schools, including Emma Willard, Questar, Shaker, and Tech Valley High School. Additional student teams from New York state include Arlington High School, Bronx High School of Science, and Mayfield High, and Beyond New York, teams also hail from Maryland, New Jersey, and Tennessee. The schools include Poolesville High School, Biotechnology High School, Dwight-Englewood School, South Brunswick High, and St. Andrew’s-Sweanee School. A team from the Zhe Jiang Province Fu Yang High School based in China will also participate.

“The Lally School is committed to fostering entrepreneurship,” said Thomas Begley, Lally dean. “This annual event encourages high school students to explore their interest in business, and entrepreneurship in particular, as well as the avenues for future college study and challenging careers. The Lally School is proud to sponsor this event, one that requires students to demonstrate important skills that include entrepreneurship, innovation, planning, analysis, and leadership.”

Earlier in the year, students were invited to submit business plans for a student-born innovation. Additionally, students were encouraged to work together to create a multidisciplinary approach to their research and business proposals. The proposals are focused on areas related to sustainability, renewable energy, technology, education, health care, services, and fashion.

Sample business plan ideas include: a built-in visual tuning indicator for instruments; the development of custom replaceable keys for keyboards; a product designed to decrease the effects of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that works to stimulate human-like interactive qualities for orphaned infants; a system that has been developed to reduce the amount of collisions between wildlife and different forms of transportation in high collision areas; the development of a workforce training facility for teens to help them gain real experience; a portable charging device to restore power to small electronics and beauty aids; and an automated lawn mowing robot.

Additional ideas include: the development of a website to aid students with finding the ideal tutor; a vending service for fair-trade products; a water collection system that uses rainfall runoff and jerry cans to create safer and more access to clean water; a holographic projector for home use that allows users to view beautiful remote sites from the comfort of their home; a website that allows students to work together on homework problems in real time; an automated online donation software allowing institutions to provide custom donation impact reports to individual donors; and the development of a virtual and physical nursing home to care for the elderly.

The program will take place on the Rensselaer campus. During the preliminary rounds, each team will deliver a 10-minute presentation to coaches and judges. Throughout the day, students will also receive feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Student teams will have an opportunity to deliver their presentations during the first round as part of a practice session that is currently underway.  Presentations will take place in the Rensselaer Student Union, rooms 2424, 3202, 3502, 3511, 3602, and 3606. Several teams will also present in the Darrin Communications Center (DCC), room 318.

The competition officially starts with the second round, beginning at 1:15 p.m. Teams will compete in the Center for Industrial Innovation (CII), rooms 3039, 3045, 3051, 3112, and 3116. Several teams will also present in the Darrin Communications Center (DCC), room 318.

The final round will begin at 3:10 p.m., in the Darrin Communications Center (DCC), room 318.  During this round, the top three teams will present for the final time in front of new judges for the cash prizes. The award ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. in the same space. Thus far, the aspiring entrepreneurs have set their sights on winning part of the $5,000 cash prize being awarded to winning teams as part of the Rensselaer High School Business Plan competition. First-place winners will be awarded $2,500. Second-place winners will receive $1,500. Third-place winners will receive $1000.

Teams not in contention for the case prizes are eligible for the specialty awards that offer recognition in several categories including: Most Socially Beneficial, Best Positioning Statement, Best Financial Analysis, Most Globally Oriented, Most Competitor Savvy, and Best Use of Emerging Technology.

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.

“Participation from high school students in this event has more than tripled just since last year, indicating a strong level of interest among them in creating value for society through ingenious new business ideas,” said Gina O’Connor, associate dean and professor at Lally, and director of the Severino Center. “Young people who are so entrepreneurially minded will have a great impact on our region and beyond. It’s very exciting to work with these business-savvy students.”

Launched last year, the inaugural high school business plan competition was focused on New York-based teams, with 11 high school teams participating from Capital Region high schools. The teams were comprised of 19 students. Planning for this year included reaching out to neighboring states and seeking inquiries from high schools based overseas.

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:

To view the competition schedule, visit: