Volusia County – UCF Business Incubator and The Cairns Foundation to Host Innovation Challenge worth $15,000

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2015) – A $10,000 first prize and a $5,000 second prize will be awarded to the winners of The Cairns Foundation Innovation Challenge on April 2 when the foundation joins the Volusia County–University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program for the second consecutive year to spotlight technologies created by students at six area colleges and universities.

The annual challenge – which begins at 12:30 pm in the Volusia Room at the Daytona Beach International Airport – will feature the finest student minds from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Bethune-Cookman University, the University of Central Florida, Florida Institute of Technology, Daytona State College, and Stetson University as they make their final “pitches” for the prizes. The top prize includes $10,000 plus one year’s enrollment in the UCF business incubation program. The second-place winner will receive $5,000 and one year’s enrollment in the business pre-incubation program. Attendance at the event is by invitation only.

According to Connie Bernal, Associate Director and site manager of the Volusia County-UCF Business Incubation Program, one goal of the challenge is to promote the commercialization of innovations spawned by local undergraduate and graduate students; yet another goal is to stimulate start-up businesses in our community. The prize money and incubator programs will allow the winning student teams to advance and protect their technologies while preparing to launch new companies.

The Innovation Challenge also offers the students a chance to partner with local investors. “The finalists will pitch their ideas to a group of businessmen and entrepreneurs,” Bernal said, adding “providing student teams with the possibility to accelerate their projects through early-stage funding.”

Dr. Jim Cairns started the Foundation in 2003 to “identify and give a life-changing boost for bright, creative young persons who otherwise might never attain their full potential.” Through mentoring and funding, the Foundation aids young inventors to realize the technical and commercial potential of their creations.

Bernal said Cairns shares not only his time and money with students and entrepreneurs, but also imparts to them the practices that launched and matured multi-million dollar companies founded on his inventions.

“This is an example of how a successful inventor/entrepreneur can contribute to the development of our local innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem,” she said.

For more information about the annual challenge, please visit www.cairnsfoundation.com.

# # #

For more information about this release, please contact: 
Connie Bernal, Site Manager Volusia County –University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program, 386-872-3101, connie.bernal@ucf.edu
Gordon Hogan, Director University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program, gordon.hogan@ucf.edu
Charlene Hager-Van Dyke, Larry Vershel Communications, 386-532-8862 or 407-644-4142, chagervandyke@yahoo.com

About the UCF Business Incubation Program
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth / impact enterprises.   Since 1999, this award-winning program has helped hundreds of local startup companies reach their potential faster by providing vital business development resources.

With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Apopka, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs.  Participating companies sustain more than 3,600 local jobs and have had a total impact of $1.518 on regional sales and $2.488 on regional economic output.  During the last fiscal year, the program has returned $7.95 for every $1.00 invested in the program.
For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu.