BTN LiveBIG: Entrepreneurship teams compete at Purdue

And the Academy goes to…Breeze ++!

The Entrepreneurship Academy at Purdue Research Park that is.

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The one-week summer academy teaches high school juniors and seniors an introduction to free enterprise.  Though many students applied to the program, going through a rigorous selection process in which they had to be nominated by a teacher or counselor, and write an essay on why they wanted to learn about entrepreneurship, only 25 fortunate students were accepted.

Divided into 5 teams of 5, the students were given a unique technology with which to develop a business model. They spent the week working through a methodology designed to help them access the high-tech product, look at its commercial viability, costs, and competition, among other things.  The teams then put together a pitch based on what they believed was the best plan for fully commercializing their product.  They presented their findings to a panel of judges, which included actual investors.

The winners, Clayton Ellington, Brett Kern, Kyle Kinney, Stephanie Price, and Hailey Tolliver called their company Breeze ++.  Their technology included a new design for wind turbine blades, which lowers turbulence levels that naturally occur when the blades are in use.

The new design allows the turbines to produce maximum power output at lower wind speed than current wind turbines.  Each member of the team received a $500.00 tuition credit for use at either Purdue, or IUS-Indiana University Southeast.  All of the academy’s participants also voted to select one of their peers to receive the Entrepreneurial Award of Distinction.  The lucky recipient, Emily Elkins, also won a $500.00 in tuition credits.

Paul Moses, Director of The Purdue Technology Centers in New Albany and Indianapolis heads up the program.  An entrepreneur himself, Paul has been helping founders of early stage companies in the Purdue Research Parks for five years.   He runs the centers’ high-tech incubator, which helps people develop their high tech ideas into businesses.

Among other things, the program helps entrepreneurs develop their business models and their team, protect their intellectual property and make sure they are funding ready.  Paul also manages the “Innovation Angels,” Southern Indiana’s only angel investment group, which considers funding early stage companies.  There are 16 accredited investors in the group that meets monthly.   The group also opened its June meeting to the academy students, allowing them to see a pitch by a real local entrepreneur.

The Entrepreneurship Academy originally started 8 years ago in West Lafayette and is a nationally award-winning program. Thanks to partnerships with the Duke Energy Foundation, the Ogle Foundation, Blue Sky Foundation, and the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, the  New Albany Entrepreneurship Academy is soon to begin planning its third year.

Moses has proven he is the kind of person who can take something complicated and boil it down to plain English.

“My original goal was to encourage a regional partnership between IUS & Purdue,” Moses said.  “We have accomplished that and the students win as will the local economy if these super bright students stay here and take jobs with local companies.”

The academy also allows the students to get an early taste of college life, all the while showcasing the fine programs being offered by Purdue and IUS here in southern Indiana.

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