College of Business and Innovation

COBI sponsors seventh annual business innovation competition for UT community


University of Toledo students, faculty and staff who have a great business idea may win up to $10,000 to help make their idea a reality in the seventh annual business innovation competition sponsored by the UT College of Business and Innovation (COBI). Entries are due February 27, 2017.

“The first six years of the business competition were a remarkable success as COBI received dozens of entries from across UT campuses,” said Dr. Sonny Ariss, Chair of the COBI management department.  “We are expecting another tremendous array of entries this year and trust the contest will continue to advance a creative culture of growth in all areas of the University” 

“Evidence of the extensive appeal of this annual competition is found in the fact that the first place winner of last year’s competition was a UT music major, Mackenzie Miller, who claimed the $10,000 prize for her custom trumpet business, Miller Handcraft,” Dr. Ariss noted.

COBI Dean Gary Insch said, “This annual business plan competition truly reflects our emphasis on supporting innovation, fostering creative thinking and nurturing the entrepreneurial environment which is so essential for the economic growth of this region.”

Dr. Ariss explained, “Entrepreneurship is not only for people who want to start a business. Corporate America also looks for innovative thinking from their employees, so intrapreneurship within the corporate business structure remains important. This is demonstrated by the fact that the college continues to have corporate partners - - Owens-Illinois, PNC Bank and Chuck & Ann Hodge - - who contribute prize money for the winners of this competition.”

Dr. Ariss said competition entries must be submitted using Lean Launch Pad concepts which enables people to develop their business model upon nine basic building blocks: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partnerships and cost structure.

“As we have every year, COBI is again ready to offer guidance to help these teams effectively implement their plans, emerge beyond the University, create jobs and enhance area economic growth,” Dr. Ariss added.

There is no cost to enter the competition. Registration must be completed online. Winners must prove that they have formed an LLC or S Corp in order to receive a financial award.

The College of Business and Innovation at The University of Toledo is providing the following prize money:

First place: $10,000 (sponsored by O-I)

Second place: $5,000 (sponsored by Chuck and Ann Hodge Business Plan Competition Fund)

Third place: $2,000 (sponsored by PNC Bank)

Honorable Mention: $500 (sponsored by PNC Bank)

The timeline for the 2017 competition is:

  • Those planning to enter the competition are invited to attend a workshop session which will be offered on Monday, February 6, 2017 from noon to 1 p.m. in the PNC Entrepreneurship Lab, Room 3100, Savage & Associates Business Complex
  • Entries must be submitted by Monday, February 27, 2017
  • Finalists will be announced on Friday, March 24, 2017
  • Finalists will make an oral presentation about their business using the business model canvas on April 13, 2017 between noon and 5:30 p.m. in the PNC Entrepreneurship Lab, Room 3100, Savage & Associates Business Complex
  • Winners will be announced April 20, 2017

The competition is open to all UT students, faculty and staff, while alumni can participate as a member of a team involving current students, faculty or staff.  To register or for more information, go to

Last Updated: 6/24/19