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Many business incubators sponsor or take part in competitions that reward top-notch business plans. And they don't just draw potential new clients to the incubator – they can also attract media attention to an incubation program or inspire potential entrepreneurs to think about what it takes to launch a successful business. Here's how several competitions are structured.

Models of competition: Incubators use contests to attract clients, raise awareness

by Jim Phillips

December 2008

Looking to find new clients for your incubator? Generate more media interest in your program? Fan the fires of entrepreneurship in your region?

The incubator manager who finds any of these goals appealing might want to consider holding a business competition for entrepreneurs or playing a part in one sponsored by someone else.

In their generic form, these competitions entail putting out a call for participants, appointing judges to pick the best entries and awarding prizes to the top finishers. As actually put in practice, however, they come in various flavors and aim at achieving different goals.

Probably the most obvious reason for sponsoring an entrepreneur competition is to identify potential start-up businesses that might be a good fit for your incubator – and maybe even lure them through the front door with a prize of free or reduced rent. But that’s not the only model. Read on to learn how a number of incubators have structured competitions to benefit their programs and their communities.

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Keywords: business planning -- client, client selection/admissions, entrepreneurial pool, marketing and promotion, seminars and training programs

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