SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 | BY ELIZABETH BURGREEN
This fall, Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning has launched the Blueprint Mississippi Social Business Challenge, which asks students to develop and present business plans to solve one of Mississippi’s pressing social problems.
Each of Mississippi’s public universities will participate in the competition, which will culminate in a statewide competition to be held March 12, 2015 in the Capitol in Jackson.
The goal of this event is to encourage students to develop ideas for solving Mississippi’s problems while learning important lessons about planning, teamwork and presenting ideas. The challenge also will serve as a showcase of talent and skill level.
“Mississippi’s universities are hotbeds of innovation, and this exercise underscores the valuable contributions these institutions make to the entire state,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “These students are the leaders of tomorrow, and I know they are up to the task of developing creative ways to address any challenge that is put before them.”
At UM, the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement and the School of Business Administration are playing lead roles in organizing the competition. The campus competition is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 7 at Insight Park. Teams will include up to six students with one faculty adviser. Each team will designate a team captain and co-captain.
“I believe Mississippi’s university students are capable of creating innovative business ideas and plans needed to address some of the state’s most pressing issues,” said Albert Nylander, director of the McLean Institute. “Hopefully this challenge will provide an opportunity to transform their ideas into action. With support from the university, we expect to see excellent student business plans from campus.”
The deadline for on-campus applications is Oct. 29. Teams can apply by sending the names of their team members, including the faculty adviser, captain and co-captain, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teams will submit a business plan, including up to five pages, and develop an interactive presentation. Full details regarding the competition are available online. The winning team from each campus advances to the state competition.
Judges will evaluate all presentations based on nine topics: the overall business plan, social problem chosen, their business solution, a market analysis, financial analysis, social impact, business viability, formal presentation, and question-and-answer ability.
The prize for first place team is $1,000, and the runner-up team will receive $500.
The IHL oversees all eight of the state’s public universities in one system to enhance the quality of life of Mississippians by meeting their diverse educational needs.