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Entrepreneurs have chance for $25,000 and startup assistance

BLACKSBURG – An entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team may qualify for a $25,000 “Running Start” loan and a package of free startup assistance services under a new Game Changers Challenge offered by VT KnowledgeWorks.

According to a press release from VT KnowledgeWorks, the Challenge is a qualifying process, not a contest; so no loan will be made if a solid applicant is not found. If solid runners-up are found, they may qualify for free startup assistance.

Finalists will be selected by VT KnowledgeWorks staff, and will then be invited to make a 15-minute presentation on their proposed new ventures to the Running Start Committee. There will be no public events, nor will competitors be allowed to attend each other’s presentations.

The challenge is open to all entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams meeting the following criteria:

The product or service to be provided by the venture must either be consumed (not simply re-marketed) by another business, or be integrated into a more complex end product for downstream sale.

The targeted buyers must constitute a relatively narrow demographic niche that can be addressed with limited resources.

The proposed product or service must powerfully address some widely acknowledged niche need.

High leverage must be obtained by the $25,000 (not just the first $25,000 out of $1 million needed for launch, for instance).

The entrepreneurial team must be able to fill the technology leadership roles in the proposed venture.

The team must be committed to locating business operations in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

Any intellectual property related to the enterprise must be appropriately owned or licensed by the enterprise.

Guidelines for submission of proposals are available at www.vtknowledgeworks.com. Applications should be submitted to christine.spalding@vtknowledgeworks.com by the Nov. 1 deadline. Awards will be announced in late November to early December.

For more information contact Jim Flowers, executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at jim.flowers@vtknowledgeworks.com.