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Students Compete For Startup Money

December 3, 2009, 5:10 PM by Katie Janssen

South Dakota college students are getting the chance to compete for thousands of dollars in startup money for their own business. But not just any idea or concept will make the cut; it needs to be science- or technology-based and something that people can use.

It's more money than most college kids have seen and could go a long way toward helping them launch their futures. A local venture capital firm called South Dakota Innovation Partners is offering up $25,000 to any college student who has a strong, marketable idea for a business or concept.

"Some of our best ideas will come out of our student population in the state. So we're trying to get students to put that down on paper," Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mark Luecke said.

Luecke says the possibilities are endless. Students could come up with anything from iPhone and computer applications to new ways to make and use renewable fuel.

"Whether it's engineered products or software development, or even a mathematical algorithm they've been working on with a professor that has some broad market application,” Luecke said.  “It could be a number of different things."

These proposals are more than just ideas; they're something that could one day end up on Main Street.

"If we're able to start up companies with students and good ideas that will build sustainable value in South Dakota, I think it's exciting for everybody," Luecke said.

Luecke says it would also pump money into the local economy and ensure South Dakota's up-and-comers stay in the state.

"One is keep the idea here in South Dakota, and two is to keep the human capital, the students, in South Dakota as well,” Luecke said. “They don't have to leave the state to pursue interesting opportunities."

South Dakota State University is also a part of this project, but it's open to any college student in the state.

You can apply online until January 15.

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