The Alabama Launchpad competition is back for a fifth year, and UAB faculty and staff interested in participating in the start-up business competition have until Oct. 15 to register. The first business plans are due Nov. 1.
"We're looking for high-growth ideas," says Glenn Kinstler, director of Alabama Launchpad. "We're looking for the types of companies and business ideas that could grow very rapidly in a short period of time and employ people."
UAB entrepreneurs have experienced success through the first four years of the competition, with UAB sweeping the first two spots of the competition two years ago. Innovative Composite Solutions, a business started by Selvum Pillay, Uday Vaidya, Ph.D., and J. Barry Andrews, Ph.D., in Engineering, won first place and a $100,000 prize in the 2008-09 competition.
Another UAB group, which included neurosurgeon Barton Guthrie, M.D., finished fourth this past year - just outside the top three paid spots.
Through the business plan competition and other programs, Alabama Launchpad provides a framework for individuals in the state to develop their business ideas and connect to a network of experts, investors and service providers that can increase the odds of success. Alabama Launchpad provides unique opportunities to obtain start-up capital, receive expert guidance and establish working relationships within the business, academic and investment capital communities.
"Anybody who has an idea - no matter how wild and crazy it might seem - can write a business plan around it. At the very least they can get some good feedback and guidance from business leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists around the state who know what they're doing. And the very best ideas are going to get some funding, too," Kinstler says.
A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, Alabama Launchpad is a partnership among the state's research universities and the business community. The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), a non-profit corporation funded by more than 68 leading companies in the state, also is a founding partner.
The organization awards $175,000 annually as part of the competition. First place receives $100,000, second place receives $50,000 and third receives $25,000.
Kinstler says this year's competition will be more interactive as the group embraces and encourages the use of social media websites, including Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.
For more information on this year's competition, visit www.alabamalaunchpad.com.