More than 150 Iowa State University entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to visitors at the ISU exhibit during this month’s Iowa State Fair.
The exhibit, “The Great Iowa State Pitch Off: STANDING InnOVATION!,” will be in the Varied Industries building at the Iowa State Fair, held Aug. 8-18.
The theme of Iowa State’s fair exhibit is part of an ongoing university mission to cultivate a campuswide culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, and to provide resources and support for students, faculty and staff to turn their ideas into reality.
“We are showcasing the energy and creativity of our students, and how that results in innovation and entrepreneurial projects that impact Iowa communities and businesses,” said Carole Custer, director of the Office of University Marketing. “Iowa State has never before had daily events of this magnitude at the state fair.”
Pitching to win
Students from every ISU college, as well as ISU Extension and Outreach and recent alumni — more than 150 participants in total — will compete in the pitch-offs, which will occur from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 8-15. There will be 14 pitches – two per hour – every day. Each entrepreneur will have up to five minutes for their presentation, followed by a five-minute Q&A with the audience. Fairgoers visiting the ISU exhibit will vote for participants to move to the semifinals by dropping a soybean into a Mason jar.
From the daily pitches, 56 semifinalist pitches will emerge to compete in front of a panel of judges Aug. 16-17 in the Iowa State exhibit. There will be four semifinalist pitches per hour.
Seven winning pitches will be announced at 1 p.m. Aug. 18, the last day of the fair, at the ISU exhibit. ISU President Wendy Wintersteen and Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert will present awards to the winners. “Best in show” will receive a $5,000 award.
The ISU fair exhibit will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Approximately 350 volunteers will help out at the ISU exhibit over the course of the fair. When students aren’t pitching, fairgoers will be able to watch videos showcasing students pitching over the past year, highlights of how each college advances entrepreneurship and innovation and submissions from the “Pitch Me ISU” contest — an opportunity for undergraduate students to share their world-changing idea if time and money were no issue. One submission will be chosen for a $1,000 award.
In addition, the exhibit will showcase Iowa State innovations – one highlight from each college, as well as Extension and Outreach and the University Library. ISU alumni innovators and entrepreneurs will be able to enter their company name and contact information to keep up-to-date on opportunities to mentor, network and collaborate with ISU entrepreneurship programs and initiatives.
“Fairgoers will get to witness firsthand what happens when our university and the state of Iowa invests in the next generation,” said Karen Kerns, entrepreneur-in-residence for the ISU President’s Initiative on Entrepreneurship. “And Iowa State students will see that they can make a difference right now. You don’t have to be 40 to make an impact on the world.”
Kerns describes innovation as “the capacity to imagine and create in a novel way,” and entrepreneurship as “the capacity to capitalize on that innovation to create opportunities for yourself and others.”