Challenge participants may compete for more prizes

Staff Reports

Columbus students who participate in The Maverick Challenge through the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce now have an opportunity to win more prizes through a new state competition.

The Innovate WithIN Pitch competition, an effort between Ball State University, the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana Economic Development Corp., offers a top prize of $100,000 and an opportunity to win an internship, mentoring services, college tuition and cash prizes. The event, which features students pitching business ideas, will begin with regional competitions March 5 through 18 with finalists competing April 9 in Indianapolis.

The state competition should give students in the area another chance to participate and allow them to commercialize their ideas, said Cindy Frey, executive director of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has sponsored the Maverick Challenge since 2008.

“Our notion is that entrepreneurship is a viable career path,” Frey said.

Local winners of the Maverick Challenge receive cash prizes and will be recognized at the chamber’s annual meeting in March, according to Frey. There are nearly 100 participants made up of individuals from one to three people competing in the local challenge, which will be held Jan. 20 at the chamber office, said Liz Worthington, director of marketing and programs for the chamber.

In the regional event, 250 individuals will compete in the challenge that encompasses Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings, Scott and Franklin/Ripley counties, Worthington said. The top two winners from each county will go up against one another during that event.

Videos and an executive summary of business pitches are required to be submitted for the first round of Innovate WithIN Pitch competition by Feb. 10. For more information, visit