November 15, 2004

$40,000 in total prize money Third annual business plan contest under way

by Bonnie Marx

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- New categories and the possibility of significant additional financing to the overall winner are the hallmarks of the third annual Southern Angels Business Plan Contest at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

For the third consecutive year, Peter Gregory, a 1984 SIUC graduate and owner of the Carbondale investment firm Humid Town Ventures LLC, is co-sponsoring the contest, which features prize money totaling $40,000. The overall winner, however, is eligible to receive up to $250,000 in equity financing from Angel Investors.

SouthernTech and Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center, both programs within SIUC's Office of Economic and Regional Development, are the other co-sponsors. Gregory and SIUC officials announced details of the competition at a news conference today (Monday, Nov. 15), at the University's Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center.

The goal of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in existing or proposed businesses with significant technology components.

"The objective when I started this was to encourage an entrepreneurial culture in Southern Illinois," Gregory said. But the additional financing for the top award winner will provide "the capital sufficient to have a chance for success. We want to attract those who want an equity investment."

The contest is limited to firms and proposed firms in Illinois' southernmost 39 counties with a major technology component or those demonstrating high growth potential. Examples include software development, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing firms.

Three categories are available this year:

• Technology business -- a business that focuses on using new technology or research.

• Manufacturing business -- a business that makes or processes a raw material into a finished product.

• Service/retail business -- a business that provides goods or services to a consumer or industrial user.

First-place winners in each category win $5,000, second place takes $3,000 and third place, $1,000. The overall winner earns an additional $10,000.

In addition, several local high schools also are participating in the contest, with winners eligible to win $1,000 scholarships.

There are two stages to the competition. In the first stage, those interested must submit an application and four-page executive summary business plan by Feb. 15. A review committee will evaluate the applications and summaries for advancement to the final stage, and will notify finalists by March 4.

The final stage requires development and submission of a comprehensive business plan and a 10-minute oral presentation to the review committee. Final stage deadline is May 20, 2005, with the announcement of winners set for June 15, 2005.

For more information, call 618/453-3804 or visit the contest Web site at

Enhancing economic development in the region is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.