Research Park News

November 11, 2017

Purdue student business competition to award $100,000 in cash prizes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University students can receive up to $100,000 in cash prizes to advance their startups through the Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition.

The competition marks the 31st year of the event, which has brought numerous Purdue innovations to the marketplace. Over its history, the competition has given away over $1.7 million in prize money. In the last five years alone, 23 winners have gone on to launch their own businesses. Two winners have been named to Forbes 30 under 30 list, and six finalists have raised over $4 million in capital. On average, 50 percent of finalists have started their own businesses.

The public is invited to attend the competition, which will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Honors College Great Hall at the Honors College and Residences and is sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Purdue’s Discovery Park and Krannert School of Management.

“For 30 years, this competition has been putting our innovators on the fast track to the successful commercialization of technology and the development of a successful business,” said Arnold Chen, managing director of the competition. “This year, we cover another vital step in that process: developing and refining a business model.”

The competition will focus on the creation of a business model in one of three distinct categories: open/big idea, social innovation and small business. 

Open/big idea includes concepts with a large potential market, monetarily and geographically. The second category is social innovation, for ideas primarily focusing on addressing socio-economic needs and challenges. The third category is small business for plans targeting a smaller geographic region. 

The keynote speaker for the open/big idea session is Michael Stoppelman, a 2003 computer science graduate of Purdue. Stoppelman was a part of the early growth of technological giants like Google and Yelp and has worked with businesses and management teams to succeed in today’s changing marketplace

Brad Niemeier will be the keynote speaker for the small business track. Niemeier’s plan for his own pizza chain won the 2012 Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition. He opened his first Azzip Pizza in 2014. Three years later, he returned to Lafayette to open his eighth store.

The keynote speaker for the social entrepreneurship track is Neli Vazquez-Rowland, the co-founder and president of A Safe Haven Foundation (ASHF). Founded in 1994, the foundation is a vertically integrated ecosystem that serves the homeless population in the Chicago area.

The competition is geared toward providing learning experiences for the student. Leading up to the competition, participating teams attend collaborative workshops that cover a broad spectrum of entrepreneurial topics from marketing analysis to finance. The preliminary competition is scheduled on Jan. 31.  Finals will be held Feb. 22 and 23.

“This year promises to be an incredible competition,” Chen said. “The response has already been tremendous, and, this year, the competition will be more diverse than ever before. The 2018 competition will include the highest percentage of female participants in the last five years (27 percent), the highest number of participants from the Purdue Polytechnic in the last five years, and 10 teams from Purdue University Northwest.”

For more information, contact Chen at or visit the Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition website.

Writer: Lyna Landis, 765-588-3575,

Source: Arnold Chen,

Research Park News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-17 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at