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Updated 10:00 AM November 9, 2009

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Contest aims to gather 1,000 ideas for new businesses or products

Ideas are bubbling up across campus as part of MPowered Entrepreneurship's second annual 1,000 Pitches competition. Smartphone applications, greener living schemes and proposals to bolster the state's economy are just a few of the categories in which students are brainstorming.

Open to all majors, the 1,000 Pitches contest awards $1,000 in prize money to the most innovative businesses or product ideas in nine categories: environment, global business, green campus, health, high-tech, best iPhone app, local business, Michigan matters or social entrepreneurship. It is believed to be the largest pitch competition in the world.

This year the contest has a more open approach, as students can elect to publish their video pitch to the 1,000 Pitches Web site's "cloud cluster" video channel as soon as they submit it. Most of the pitches are public, says Lauren Leland, a junior business major who is president of MPowered student organization.

"People have this notion that ideas need to be kept secret," Leland says. "We really want to encourage the sharing of ideas. The idea is only step one, and our hope is that in taking the first step to verbalize their ideas, students will be encouraged to pursue them."

The goal of the competition is to gather at least 1,000 pitches — preferably at least 1,045 pitches, which would be one more than last year, the students say. As of Nov. 4, the competition had attracted 767.

The contest ends Nov. 20, with an awards ceremony on Dec. 5. MPowered students will chose the top 10 pitches in each category and an expert judge from the business or university community will chose the winners.

"The great thing about the 1,000 Pitches contest is that it puts laser focus on the earliest part of entrepreneurship: generating ideas!" says Doug Neal, managing director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. "Students need to understand that their ideas matter."

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