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Competition Process

Each team will create a  concept for a new business and submit a five-page explanation of the product or service, the target customers, the value proposition to those customers and a description of the potential market, including size. Semifinalists for the undergraduate and graduate divisions will be chosen from among the initial submissions.

Semifinalists will then prepare a 15-minute presentation of their concept and present it to a distinguished panel of judges drawn from the entrepreneurial, business and investment communities. The teams that present the best business concepts will be awarded scholarships.


The competition is open exclusively to all University of St. Thomas undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows registered in the semester of the competition. All members of a team must be current students with a valid UST student ID.

Student teams will choose one of three divisions to compete in for each submission:

  • Teams registering to compete in the undergraduate division must be comprised of all undergraduate students.
  • Graduate division teams must have at least one currently registered UST graduate student (master's or Ph.D. level), but may be comprised with both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • The social venture division is for business concepts that are structured to drive social change through a systemic, sustainable business model. It should seek both financial and social returns. This division includes undergraduate- and graduate-level teams competing against each other.

Request a Team ID

Download and complete the Fowler Team ID Request Form to enter the competition. Email the completed form, following the specific instructions in the document, to by 5 p.m. on November 3.

Submit Your Concept

Download the Fowler Submission Instructions. Complete a cover sheet and 5-page submission, without including any student names. Email the completed materials to by 11:59 p.m. on November 3.

Semifinalist Submissions & Presentations

Up to 16 teams will be selected as semifinalists in each division. These teams will be given additional instructions and mentorship to prepare for their presentations to judges.

The judges will select the top team from each group to move on to the final round in the afternoon. The winners will be selected from the four finalists in each division by a new panel of judges.

Alec Johnson, OCB Entrepreneurship professor, center, shakes hands with students at the Fowler Business Concept Challenge on November 15, 2013, at the auditorium in Schulze Hall on the Minneapolis campus. Student Dennis Gisch (Entrepreneurship) immediate left of Johnson, is also pictured.

Undergraduate and Graduate Division Judging Criteria

Preliminary submissions will be judged by a reviewer panel using the following criteria (equally weighted):

  • Originality (business idea is new, novel and unique)
  • Clear and compelling value proposition (legitimate, recognized need; appropriate solution)
  • Competitive advantage (creates more value for customer than alternative solutions)
  • Market opportunity (adequate market size; viable business model)
  • Feasibility (reasonable prospect of funding and successful implementation)
Social Venture Division Judging Criteria
  • Originality (social venture idea is new, novel and unique)
  • Clear and compelling value proposition (clear articulation of specific need the social product or service fulfills)
  • Compelling advantage (solution is superior to current offerings)
  • Social impact (size of population served; potential to impact significant number of people)
  • Feasibility (viable business model that does not continue to depend on donations)

Awards Ceremony

All participants and judges will be invited to the awards ceremony to be held immediately following the finals, at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. The winners of each of the awards will be announced at that time.

See the Scholarship Awards »

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