News Column

UTEP Venture Competition Widens Scope

March 11, 2013

Paula Monarez Diaz

Business Competition

The Paso Del Norte Venture Competition, an event that offers people the opportunity to create or grow a startup company, has expanded its focus this year. The event, held at UTEP's Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce this weekend, has opened its doors to private startups for the first time.

In the past, only university students participated.

"We are excited to be hosting the 2013 Paso Del Norte Venture Competition," said Sacnite Ramos, UTEP's assistant director of the Undergraduate Programs for the College of Business Administration, in an email. "This venture competition gives local students and entrepreneurs the opportunity to create or grow a startup company, and provides professional direction and mentorship for their venture."

This is the fifth annual competition to be held UTEP, said Nancy Lowery, assistant director of the Hub of Human Innovation, a competition sponsor.

"We have nine teams from universities in the El Paso, Ciudad Juarez and Las Cruces region," Lowery said in an email. "There will be 13 local companies participating in the PDNVC."

Participants from UTEP, New Mexico State University and the Instituto Tecnologico Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Tec de Monterrey) have been working for five months on their plans, which involve forecasting, market research and financial cash flows. Their subjects include mobile wellness technologies, water recycling, cloud-based collaborative platforms, cyber and energy security, the next generation of interactive advertising, solar technology and green construction materials, said Aaron Cervantes Herrera, coordinator of the Loya Center.

The competition is a platform for entrepreneurial minds to find new ways to become active players in the regional economy. Panels of judges, which include bankers, investors and entrepreneurs, will pick the winner. All presentations will be in the Business Administration Building.

The interaction between the teams and the judges is similar to that on the popular ABC reality show "Shark Tank," where a panel of successful entrepreneurs consider investing in startup companies, he said. However, in the competition, the judges will provide professional direction and mentorship.

"The goal of the competition is to improve the entrepreneurial spirit and enhance our region's economy," Herrera said in an email. "Additionally, we try to complement classroom theory with hands-on experience."

The winning team will receive $10,000 cash, plus in-kind services. Additional prizes will be given for best business plan and best elevator pitch.

In addition, the overall winning team will receive an invitation to participate in the University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business Venture Labs Investment Competition. The winning team of that competition receives a $100,000 mixture of in-kind services and cash.

In addition, the four top UTEP teams will be invited to compete in the UT System's new competition, where they also have an opportunity to win $100,000.

Information: Aaron Cervantes Herrera at 747-6157 or

Source: (c) 2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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