The Next Big Idea

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Next Big Idea competition is back, and this year it has expanded to make every person in the VCU community eligible.

Launched in 2013, the online competition celebrates the innovative and entrepreneurial people at VCU. It gives faculty, staff and students a platform to share their ideas for, or progress they have made on, a new technology, new product or new company.

The competition is organized by VCU Innovation Gateway, which has a new venture team that focuses on identifying innovative students and faculty and helping them to translate their ideas into reality.

Last year, winners included PENdulum, a nonprofit with the commitment to empower HIV-positive youth in Mbabane, Swaziland, through long-term written connections with U.S. college students, and Indie Lab RVA, a space available for community members to do scientific work and to have access to lab equipment generally only available at universities.

“This competition is all about trying to identify members of the entrepreneurial community at VCU,” said Nicky Colomb Monk, enterprise and economic development executive for VCU Innovation Gateway. “Once we identify people who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship, we can connect them with resources that are available around campus and around Greater Richmond.”

Next Big Idea is a feeder for the da Vinci Center’s Venture Creation Competition in the spring and for the new programs being rolled out by Innovation Gateway to support entrepreneurial students, faculty and staff.

A recent survey of VCU students showed that 51 percent were interested in starting their own company at some point, and that interest was spread across all schools at VCU. It also showed that 15 percent of students either already had or were actively trying to start a company.

The Next Big Idea submission period begins today, Oct. 27, and continues through Friday, Nov. 28. Winners will be announced in December.

Awards include a top prize of $1,000, a people’s choice award of $500 and three $100 prizes for ideas with the biggest potential impact for VCU, Richmond and the world.

For information about how to compete, visit


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