Innovation foundation, law firm launch bi-annual competition

Innovation foundation, law firm launch bi-annual competition

by Jon MacNeill – Telegraph Journal | link to original article

FREDERICTON – The founder of one of North America's biggest business-plan competitions is hoping Breakthru 2011 will draw plenty of New Brunswick innovators out of the woodwork and into the marketplace.

« If (innovators) have a good business idea and are prepared to commit to it, through the competition we can help them launch their business, » Calvin Milbury, president and CEO of the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, said.

The foundation will announce today details of its bi-annual business-plan competition. Breakthru 2011 is the third instalment of the province-wide challenge and is being presented by the foundation and Cox & Palmer law firm.

Applications will be accepted until Jan. 10, 2011 for Breakthru, which will award more than $250,000 in investments and professional services for the top three business plans.

To participate, individuals or teams must submit a two-page executive summary of their innovative business idea along with a 45-second video of their « elevator pitch » to the foundation.

Entries that meet the competition's criteria will attend the Breakthru Boot Camp on Jan. 22 at the University of New Brunswick's Wu Centre in Fredericton.

The full-day camp will be run by Barry Bisson, a Harvard business-school graduate and president of Shad Valley International, a non-profit organization aimed at unleashing the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in young people.

« (Bisson) will take all these entrepreneurs through the process of developing a business plan and developing a financial model that supports your business, » Milbury said. « Then we give them some parting tips around how to pitch to investors and prepare presentations. »

Participants will then have a few weeks to fine-tune their business plan before a selection committee will choose six finalists who will vie for three prizes of cash and in-kind services. The winners will be announced during a gala on March 16, 2011.

The top prize is $100,000 in cash investments and professional services ranging from legal to marketing from the competition's corporate partners.

Two second-place prizes of $50,000 in investments plus additional services will also be doled out.

Milbury said the foundation takes small shares in the winners' businesses and acts as a partner to help the start-ups grow.

« The goal is by the end of 2011 to get their companies created and get them in front of other investment groups, » Milbury said.

The competition has been responsible for several successful businesses that are still operating in the province, he noted.

KnowCharge Inc. won a second-place prize in 2009 and was successful in getting a second venture-capital investment from the foundation. The Fredericton-based company develops boxes that prevent high-end electronic devices from being damaged by electro-shocks during product shipping.

Other past winners that are still operating include Miramichi-based Greenlight Geomatics, Chem Green Innovations out of Sackville and Trivnet Media Systems, among others.

Milbury said the number of Breakthru applicants rose from 31 in 2007 to 60 in 2009 and he's hoping the 2011 edition will draw between 75 and 100 entries.

« It's a very positive and exciting event and it does lead to some very good results, » Milbury said.


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