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European Commission and/or University Sponsored Web Challenges

Large organizations like the World Bank have tool kits for entrepreneurs to help solve problems. The top MBA programs throughout Europe hold various business plan and venture capital competitions. Let's combine them to hold web challenges.

Photo of John Cho
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European MBAs are more than happy to host competitions and can serve as a facilitator to get ideas off the ground.  Engineers and MBAs form teams early in the year to build a prototype that addresses a challenge (organized by the EU or World Bank, Red Cross, etc) or submit original ideas.  

Winners and/or top performers have the option of meeting with incubators or angel investors.  As the businesses progress, they can then participate in the existing venture capital and business plan competitions at a later date.  

Governing organizations, corporate sponsors, or non-profits submit detailed challenges that could include a description of the opportunity, market data (the World Bank and supporting organizations have tons), resource tool-kits (we've listed tons here), and possibly a mentor (professors would be ideal).

How will your concept support web entrepreneurship?

It uses the existing competencies and aligns the incentives of various organizations to create value. Talent pools filtered and nurtured by the universities get practical experience to apply theory and create jobs. Governing organizations and sponsors get a flexible and creative way to solve problems. Investors get consistent access to talented teams with ideas. Engineers and business students get "practice runs" with teams to test chemistry and access to the resources and knowledge necessary for success.

What kinds of resources will be needed to get this concept off the ground and scale it?

The competition will need a sponsoring organization (the EC or a university) to organize the initial and overall competition and provide the template for other universities to do the same. There are several world wide venture capital and business plan competitions that can provide examples. Typically a few dedicated staffers along with professors and the volunteer support from students is all that is needed. Governing organizations, corporations, and/or non-profits need to provide the challenge requirements. This may take an investment of internal staff depending on the scale and complexity of the challenge. Various tool kits and resources will need to be created or compiled, including regulatory requirements, business plan documents, etc. Competition staff will need to manage and coordinate the contributions of the various organizations from tool kits to the incubators to the investors invited, etc.

How could we get started?

First steps would include approaching the relevant universities. Oxford is an excellent place to start given the success of Silicon Valley comes to Oxford. Approaching UNC who runs the international VCIC competition that is used throughout Europe to gain a better understanding of the resources required.

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Might design students be added to the mix? Progressively more designers are joining start-up teams as founders so could be good to tap their potential here too?