Notre Dame business plan competition sees record numbers of plans, participants

Author: Carol Elliott


Although the final event doesn’t take place until April, the University of Notre Dame’s annual business plan competition has already set records, including largest-ever numbers of teams, individual participants and judges.

Of the 147 student and alumni teams who competed in Round One of the 2012-2013 McCloskey Business Plan Competition, 103 will advance to the next level, announced the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship at the Mendoza College of Business, which sponsors the competition.

All told, those teams represent 330 individuals. To qualify for the McCloskey Competition, each team must have at least one member who either is a Notre Dame alumni, graduate student, undergraduate student or faculty member. A record number of alums – 167 – also have volunteered to service as judges. The judges are members of the Gigot Center Advisory Board as well as the Irish Entrepreneur Network, which brings together a select group of Notre Dame alumni and friends who are both experienced in entrepreneurial endeavors and interested in new venture development.

Plans cover a broad range of industries and businesses, from a social entrepreneurial venture in India that helps employ disadvantaged women, to a smart phone app that tracks consumer behavior, to new technologies for detecting cancer.

“Nearly 50 percent of our ventures address a compelling social or environmental need,” said Karen Slaggert, associate director of the Gigot Center. “We’re so pleased that social enterprises continue to make such a huge impact.  We also have great representation from our faculty, alumni and undergraduate and graduate students, including MBAs and EMBAs, as well as Ph.D. students from the colleges of science and engineering.” 

Round One required teams to submit a two-page overview of their ventures by Nov. 9. For Round Two, participants must enter a 10-page business plan by Feb. 22, 2013.  Twelve teams will advance to the semifinal round on April 18 to compete for more than $300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Winners will be announced after the final round on April 19, which is a live event.

In addition to the McCloskey Grand Prize awarded to the overall winner, a number of additional awards will be given, including the Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact, which goes to the venture – both for-profit and not-for-profit – that involves a social, humanitarian or environmental focus. All attendees to the final event also will have the opportunity to vote for the Pace Global People’s Choice Best Presentation Award.

The McCloskey Business Plan Competition is intended for traditional entrepreneurial ventures that have not yet been launched or are at the earliest stage of launch. This is typically defined as ventures that have earned less than $500,000 in cumulative revenue, received less than $500,000 in external financing, and have been in operation for less than three years.

For more information, contact the Gigot Center at (574) 631-3042 or visit