A way to keep music books flat while playing. Producing and labeling allergy-free foods for kids. Lakeside pumps to stop the spread of invasive species. Three winning ideas from students across campus.

Last year 157 students, from 30 academic disciplines, entered 107 business ideas in the fifth annual Fowler Business Concept Challenge. Their majors ranged from accounting and biology to social work and women’s studies. They included undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. The 12 winning teams were comprised of students from nine different programs.

“While this is an entrepreneurial competition, it’s not just for students who study entrepreneurship. Many of the competition’s best ideas come from students across campus, who see a better way of doing something in their field of study,” said David Deeds, Schulze Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship at St. Thomas. “The Fowler encourages all St. Thomas students to combine their knowledge, passion and understanding, to make a difference and solve a problem that matters to them.”

Since its creation in 2009, the Fowler Business Concept Challenge has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships, going to the top four teams in each level of competition. More than 700 business ideas have been entered. Ten have turned into companies that are still viable today.

Students choose one division to enter their concept: graduate, undergraduate or social venture. The social venture division is for concepts that pursue innovative solutions to societal problems. This year’s Fowler will award just less than $60,000 in scholarships. First place teams in each division win a $10,000 scholarship.

To help students who don’t study entrepreneurship with their business plans and presentations, entrepreneurship faculty will hold information and work sessions. Twin Cities entrepreneurs will mentor students and give advice during the submission process. All Tommies are invited to attend the weekly Practicing Entrepreneurs meeting to share ideas and help each other hone in on their concepts.

For more information, visit the Fowler Challenge website or e-mail fowler@stthomas.edu.

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