Universities initiated new business plan competitions (BPC) during the last decade at a 22% annual growth rate. Despite increasing popularity, even avid proponents of BPCs question their efficacy. There is sparse documentation of BPC's usefulness in "sorting out" and elevating innovative growth-oriented business models that drive economic development. We compare competitions hosted by nationally top-ranked programs in entrepreneurship (Princeton Review/Entrepreneur.com), engineering (ABET), top-rated and second-tier general business programs (AACSB). Findings suggest that institutions with top-ranked entrepreneurship programs were less likely than top-ranked engineering programs to reward entries from high-value ventures such as energy, IT, and medical products or solutions. The study has implications for universities considering a single-institution-based BPC. It stimulates discussion among program administrators who address the mix of competitors, the way competitors are attracted, and how to enhance the quality of entrants into appropriate BPCs.
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