TU College Cup Innovation Challenge is looking for the next Oprah

Any student can apply to pitch their business idea at new event

March 21, 2022

Students of all academic backgrounds have just a week remaining to apply for The College Cup Innovation Challenge, a first of its kind event.

The university-wide challenge will assist students from all disciplines in developing new socially- or commercially oriented ideas and innovations to positively impact the world.

Interested students have until midnight of March 28 to register for the event. The first prize winner will receive a placement in the TU StarTUp Accelerator and a $10,000 investment.

At the heart of the College Cup is the invaluable tutelage of Patrick McQuown, TU’s executive director of entrepreneurship. In a humorous video inviting TU students to apply, McQuown walks through the new StarTUp at the Armory in downtown Towson.

“You might be saying, but I’m not a business major,” says McQuown as he pulls out photos of Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg and TV host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. “They’ve never taken a business course and look at them. This event is open to all TU students, no matter, regardless of their major.”

McQuown says the goal of The College Cup is, “to encourage an entrepreneurship and innovation culture throughout the university by unleashing our students' ideas.”

McQuown has a proven track record of significant success. He mentored two student startups - beatgig.com and bartrack.beer – now both estimated to be worth more than $100 million.

By participating in The College Cup Innovation Challenge, students will gain valuable professional experience with highly sought-after transferrable workplace skills that support professional careers—communications, self-confidence, navigating uncertainty, risk taking, decision-making.

College Cup Key Dates

  • March 28: Application deadline
  • March 31: Finalists announced
  • April 8: TU College Cup Innovation Challenge Bootcamp
  • April 11: One-page executive summaries due
  • April 26: TU College Cup Innovation Challenge at the StarTUp at the Armory

Participating students will learn how to deliver a compelling presentation with the support of the TU College Cup Innovation Challenge Bootcamp and access to mentors to practice and prepare for the challenge event. All Challenge finalists will be able to add this distinction to their resume which will highlight these valuable workplace skills.

The second prize winner will receive $2,000, while the third-place prize is $1,000. The prize money will go toward the winning venture ideas.

Entrepreneurship is a crucial part TU’s strategic plan’s goal of engagement as the University seeks to develop and sustain a successful StarTUp business engagement center. TU serves as a community leader and partner extending the talents of its students, faculty and staff beyond campus boundaries to create opportunities for leadership, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and experiential learning.

McQuown adds that TU has become a hub of entrepreneurship.

“We create programs and Initiatives that foster a startup ecosystem environment at TU and we work to advance and support our students' creative potential.”

The StarTUp at the Armory opened just last fall as TU’s front door for start-ups, small businesses, as well as the region’s largest corporations. The StarTUp received rave reviews as a state-of-the art 26,000 sq. ft. space, which includes 6,000 sq. ft. of free co-working space and meeting rooms where entrepreneurs and executives can connect with each other and to TU’s programs and people.