Big Idea

The Turner School of Entrepreneurship & Innovation’s “Big Idea Competition”, is a competition for Bradley University students and alumni. All you need to compete is an idea for an innovation, product, service, or solution to a social issue. Big Idea gives participants the opportunity to get creative, present their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges and potential investors, and learn about launching new for-profit, not-for-profit, or social ventures.

Competitors should expect to gain knowledge on how to turn ideas into opportunities, obtain feedback on ideas, develop networks, and get exposure to potential investors.


Cash Awards Presented

The top three finalists will be awarded cash prizes, the specific amounts of which can be found at In addition to the cash prizes, finalists will also receive free legal and accounting services from local experts to aid them in the launch of their new ventures.

How does the Big Idea Competition Work?

The Big Idea Competition consists of three rounds of competition. For deadline dates go to:

  1. Screening Round
    The Screening Round is the initial review of ideas. Competitors will submit a 2-page summary of their idea. This summary acts as your competition entry form. A panel of judges will select the 25 teams that will be moving ahead to the next round. Summaries must be uploaded to the competition website: 
  1. Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round
    This Round is divided into two parts, a trade show display table, and an elevator pitch of the idea.
    • Part 1: Trade Show Display
      The Trade show is large fair where competitors will get the opportunity to set up a display and present their business idea. Each team will have a 6’ by 3’ rectangular table to display their idea. Teams are allowed four members (with at least one student/alumni member) working the trade fair booth. Teams are scored by two constituents:
      1. Trade Show Judges
        Trade Show Judges are chosen by the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Judges will visit each of the booths and select a minimum of three teams they feel have the best business idea and presentation.
      2. Community Choice Judges
        Community Choice Judges consist of fellow students, friends, and other members of the community who visit the displays and vote on which they feel are the best business ideas and presentations. Community Choice Judges may vote for one to five business ideas and presentations.
    • Part 2: Elevator Pitch Round
      The Elevator Pitch is a three-minute pitch of the team’s business idea, presented by the currently enrolled Bradley University student or alum, before a panel of judges. Following the elevator pitch will be a two-minute question and answer session. During the trade show, the team will designate one member to give their elevator pitch. While absent from the trade show, have other team members staff the trade show booth. If you are the only person on your team, it is possible to engage up to two other non-team individuals to help with the booth and present to Trade Show and Community Choice Judges.

      The results of the Trade Show scores, given by the Community Choice Judges and the Trade Show Judges, as well as scores from the Elevator Pitch Round and Screening Round, will decide which three or four teams will progress to the Final Presentation Round.
  1. Final Presentation Round
    Three to four teams will proceed to the Final Presentation Round (exceptions to this number may be based on the quality of business plans submitted). The Finalists will write a complete business plan and present it to a panel of judges. Plans must be uploaded to the competition website: Presentations are open to investors, Bradley University faculty, staff, alumni, students, and the general public.

    Finalists will have a maximum of 15 minutes to give their presentations, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session. The judges will meet after presentations to make final award decisions. The final score for a team will be a blend of scores received on the business plan, and presentation scores. Winners will be announced that day.

    Finalist teams will receive special mentoring sessions prior to submitting their business plan, and prior to their final presentations. The finalist teams will also be required to create a PowerPoint presentation for the Final Presentation Round.


Competition Rules & Eligibility

Teams must comply with the following criteria to be eligible for the competition:

  1. The Big Idea Competition is limited to teams that include active Bradley University students or alumni as define below:
    1. Bradley University students enrolled either full-time or part-time in degree programs.
    2. Bradley University alumni who have graduated within one year of the deadline for the Screening Round.
  2. Non-students are allowed as team members, as long as at least one qualifying Bradley University student or alum on the team.
  3. The team’s business idea/plan must be developed during the current school year and the Bradley University student/alumnus must have played a major role in creating it.
  4. Working with outside entrepreneurs with existing business/business ideas is permissible, but as noted in #3 above, the student/alumnus must write the business plan if selected as a finalist.
  5. It is acceptable for a competitor to already have earned revenue, however the total company revenues cannot exceed $100k as of the date of the Screening Round.
  6. During the Trade Show Round, a maximum of four team members, including both students/alumni and nonstudents, may present their business concept to the Trade Show Judges and Community Choice Judges at their booth.
  7. In the Final Presentation Round of the competition, only Bradley University students or alumni will be allowed to present.
  8. The Big Idea Competition reserves the right to make the final determination of the appropriateness of submitted business plans. Not all prizes may be awarded depending on the quality of submissions


The Big Idea Competition considers all submitted business plans as confidential and treats all team matters as such. Due to the nature of the competition, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality for proprietary matters. Bradley University, the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the organizers of the competition are not responsible for any proprietary information and/or intellectual property included in a competition idea or submitted business plan. Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials (such as: intellectual property, copyright, or patent confidentiality) is the sole responsibility of the competitors participating. Non-Disclosure Agreements will not be signed by judges, mentors, or any Bradley University staff associated with the competition.