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.

Screening Round: Feb. 20, 2019
Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round: Mar. 13, 2019
Final Round: Apr. 15, 2019 - submit Business Plan;
                       Apr. 23 - presentations

Click to Enter
$20,000 in Cash Awarded

Cash Awards Presented

The top three finalists will be awarded cash prizes, the specific amounts of which are as follows: 1st place- $8,000; 2nd place- $5,000; 3rd place- $2,000. 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.

  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. To enter, register and upload your Summary by clicking on the orange "Click to Enter" button at the top of the page. The deadline is Feb. 20, 2019.
  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. The Trade Show & Elevator Pitch will be on Mar. 13, 2019.
    • 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.
      3. Trade Show Awards
        Awards will be given after the Trade Show/Elevator Pitch in the following categories: Social Enterprise Award; Best Arts Idea; Special Recognition Award; Community Choice- Trade Show Display; Business-to-Business Innovation Award; Technology Award.
    • 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 five teams will progress to the Final Presentation Round.
  1. Final Presentation Round
    Five 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. Presentations are open to investors, Bradley University faculty, staff, alumni, students, and the general public. The Final Round is on April 23, 2019, 3-5 p.m. in the Peplow Pavilion.

    Finalists will have a maximum of 10 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 Information Sessions

To learn more about the Competition, information sessions will be conducted for each round, as follows:
“How to Win the Big Idea Competition”: A session on competition structure, best practices to enhance your chances, and answers to your questions.
“Creating a Great Trade Show Display”: A session on trade show rules, display suggestions, and best practices for elevator pitches.

Date Description Time Room
2/6/2019 How to Win Big Idea 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. LIB 229
2/7/2019 How to Win Big Idea 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. LIB 229
3/6/2019 Great Trade Show Displays 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. LIB 229
3/7/2019 Great Trade Show Displays 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. LIB 229

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

Are you ready to win money by showing off your idea? If so, click the red button at the top of the page to get started.

If you are having problems entering, please contact Ken Klotz at: or (309) 677-3882.


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.

Financial Aid

Students can receive financial aid up to a budgeted Cost of Attendance (COA), which is the estimated cost to attend Bradley University, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, living expenses, transportation costs, and miscellaneous expenses. Please be aware that if this award exceeds your COA, it may cause other previously issued aid such as loans to be reduced. If aid is impacted by this award, distribution of the award can be delayed until the conclusion of the semester. All awards are taxable to the individual recipients.