Big Idea

The Turner School of Entrepreneurship and 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: Held on Feb. 12, 2022. Due to Covid-19, the competition is postponed for 2021, but we are looking forward to spring of 2022.
Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round: Entry deadline is March 11, 2022. Judging- March 22 and 23, 2022.
Final Round: April 25, 2022.

$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 submitted a 2-page summary of their idea. A panel of judges selected the best 29 ideas to advance to the next round.
  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 and Elevator Pitch will be on Mar. 23, 2022.
    • 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 Impact Award; Best Arts Idea; Special Recognition Award; Community Choice- Trade Show Display; Business-to-Business Innovation Award; Technology Award.
    • Part 2: Trade Show Round
      The Trade Show Round will be conducted virtually. Each team will depict and pitch their idea by submitting a 5-minute video intended to simulate a trade show environment. Judges will review the videos and score competitors electronically on March 22 and 23. Judges will include students, family, friends, faculty, staff, and community leaders.
  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. Business Plan Deadline: April 18, 2022. Final Round Presentations: April 25, 2022, 3-5 p.m., 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 Rules and 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

If you are having problems entering, please contact Becky Mills 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.