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Ag Springboard Competition Rules

The Ag Entrepreneurship Planning Committee ("AEPC") of the Ag Springboard Competition ("AS") reserves the right to update these rules at any time. Every attempt will be made to notify participants of any modification to this document; however it is ultimately the responsibility of AS participants to stay current with AS Rules and Regulations.

General Requirements

Each team must meet the following requirements in order to compete in the Ag Springboard Competition which is sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State.

Team

  1. At least one team member should be an enrolled student in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University.
  2. Other team members must be enrolled students at Penn State in any program across the University System.
  3. Teams must be a minimum of two (2) students to no more than five (5) members.
  4. Teams can consist of undergraduate and/or graduate students.
  5. Contest participants may not join more than one team.
  6. Non-student members, judges and planning committee members may not enter the contest.
  7. Judges for the final round of competition may not advise teams.
  8. The last date for team formation is March 15, 2017.
  9. Former Ag Springboard participants are welcome to compete. However, ideas that have won awards are not eligible to re-apply.
  10. The idea can be a for-profit business venture or non-profit organization.
  11. The idea must be within the spectrum of disciplines within the College of Agricultural Sciences, including but not limited to food, energy, ecosystems, bioproducts, community development, and sustainability.
  12. The proposed venture or organization must be operable in compliance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Ag Business Pitch

  1. The proposed idea should be suitable for funding at some level to take it further.
  2. The proposed idea should not be in violation of any intellectual property rights as far as you are aware.
  3. Teams that utilize intellectual property generated by University resources will need to follow Penn State's intellectual property guidelines.
  4. Students who are employed by Penn State University through assistantships and/or wage payroll will need to be mindful of the University IP policy (listed in item 3).
  5. Teams or team members may not have received more than $5,000 in funding from any source.
  6. Competition participants may not contact finalist judges and finalist judges are not to contact any participants during the course of the competition.

Awards

There are both monetary and "in-kind" awards available for the top two teams. The first team will receive a prize of $7,500 and the second team, $2,500. Awards will be distributed in disbursements based on identified and accomplished venture goals. Award funds must be applied to advancing the proposed venture.

In addition, the finalists can receive certain other non-monetary prizes such as some legal services, introduction to the Lion Launchpad for start-up companies,  access to mentoring resources and benefits from event promotion from the College of Agricultural Sciences.

For undergraduate winners, awards will be deposited in each student's bursar's account. Graduate students who are employed by the University will receive their award through University payroll. Please note that taxes, financial aid implications of receiving the competition award, etc., are all the student's responsibility.

Rounds

The competition consists of two rounds.

Round One

  1. Teams that do not meet the requirements under the rules section or submit incomplete presentations will automatically be disqualified.
  2. All teams must register by March 15, 2017 here, or by sending an e-mail to Dr. Mark Gagnon, mag199@psu.edu or on the makeithappenpsu.com website.
  3. Registered teams must submit a video of their pitch by March 27.
  4. Video submission: All presentations must be submitted in video format on a public, shareable platform (i.e. Google or YouTube). The setting must be "public" so that the video can be shared with multiple judges. The length should be about five to eight minutes. Alternative formats will not be accepted. E-mail a link — not a file — to Dr. Mark Gagnon, mag199@psu.edu
  5. Each first-round submission will be reviewed and judged according to:
    • Business idea and opportunity description
    • Understanding of competitors
    • Market opportunities and competition
    • Product/Service viability
    • Knowledge of intellectual property assets
    • Business model viability
    • Overall attractiveness of the opportunity
    • Management qualification
  6. Feedback will be provided to each participating team.
  7. Finalist teams will be selected by the judges to participate in the Final Round and will be notified by April 4, 2017.

Final Round

  1. Teams that do not meet the requirements under the rules section or submit incomplete presentations will automatically be disqualified.
  2. Each team that qualifies for the final round is required to present their pitch on April 13, 2017 to a panel of judges consisting primarily of experienced entrepreneurs and investors. This constitutes the final presentation.
  3. Each final round presentation will be reviewed and judged according to:
    • Business idea and opportunity description
    • Understanding of competitors
    • Market opportunities and competition
    • Product/Service viability
    • Knowledge of intellectual property assets
    • Business model viability
    • Overall attractiveness of the opportunity
    • Management qualification
  4. Feedback will be provided to each participating team.
  5. The two best business ideas as selected by the panel of judges will be notified and will receive an award at the 6:30-9 p.m. banquet dinner on April 13, 2017. Location TBD. All finalist teams must attend the awards banquet to qualify for the award. See the "Awards" section for more information.

Intellectual Property

Ideas not acted upon have little value. Only when they are built into real companies or turned into issued patents is any real value realizable. This competition is about building ideas into opportunities  — the very first step on the way to possibly building any value.

It is customary with many ideas in these early stages that there is limited intellectual property with value, unless one of the team members already has at least filed for patent protection. In the case with teams that are utilizing Penn State intellectual property, guidelines for idea presentation and sharing are available at Penn State's Intellectual Property Office. Teams using University intellectual property must comply with University guidelines.

Investors, in any case, do not sign confidentiality agreements, and entrepreneurs must learn that trust is more important than legal documents. It is more important to build a team with people that you trust and to rely on the integrity of the judges to respect your ideas.

In any case you should only disclose information with which you are comfortable or have been advised to share by your IP counsel. At this stage, it is not necessary to explain exactly how you do something that might give away "secrets," but to focus on the size of the opportunity and how you are going to take advantage of it.