Student engagement remains at the center of the McCloskey Business Plan Competition. All McCloskey teams are now required to include current students. Gigot “Connections” is a platform developed to facilitate the matching of alumni teams to current students who are willing to join an alumni team. More than 130 current graduate and undergraduate students – representing every college and many different disciplines on campus – have stepped up to participate in this experience!
Several new collaborations are underway to encourage student participation and to enrich the student experience. These collaborations include:
• The ACC Innovation Challenge is a conference wide competition including 15 ACC universities, and is designed specifically to encourage undergraduate innovation. The best and brightest undergraduate McCloskey team will be selected to represent Notre Dame at the ACC Innovation Challenge, held at Georgia Tech early in April.
• Cupids Cup Challenge is a unique competition sponsored by Under Armour. All student founders and recent alumni founders (those under the age of 30) are encouraged to participate. Under Armour founder Kevin Plank is passionate about student entrepreneurship, having launched UA while a student at the University of Maryland. We were the first university approached to partner in this program, and are very excited about this opportunity.
• The Schurz Innovation Challenge seeks student innovations related to online media technologies. We are collaborating closely with Innovation Park at Notre Dame to create synergies with the McCloskey Business Plan Competition.
• We are very pleased to partner with ND-GAIN (Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index) to encourage teams to consider adaptation solutions related to climate change. ND-GAIN is a part of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, seeking to address global human-caused climate change concerns.
Finally, we believe that Mendoza’s focus on “Business as a Force for Good” should be a serious consideration for all of our McCloskey teams. This is a huge opportunity for the Gigot Center to align with the mission of the University and challenge our students to ask deeper questions related to the role of business, and we take this challenge seriously. New this year, every McCloskey participant was required to answer the following question: How will the world be a better place because of your new business venture?
This framework is useful only if there is a meaningful way to measure, compare, and improve impact. To this end, we continue to work toward the development of a scorecard used to evaluate teams being considered for the Klau Family Prize for Greatest Social Impact. The social impact scorecard was used last year, and we continue our efforts to refine and to expand the usefulness of this methodology. Melissa Paulsen is leading the charge on this key initiative. We will be coaching the McCloskey teams on the process and expectations, so expect to see more teams articulating impact in their value propositions this spring.