Students at California, Clarion and Edinboro are invited to win up to $10,000 for their business venture in the annual State System Startup Challenge.


All students at state-owned Pennsylvania universities are encouraged to use their imagination to create their best business ideas and compete for prize money. The prize money will assist in making students’ entrepreneurial dreams come true. ​


Each university has designated faculty and staff to provide personal attention to students’ ideas to prepare them for launch in today’s marketplace. A team of judges reviews the submissions, and the finalists – as well as all of the competitors – are recognized at an awards ceremony.


“What I love about this competition is the variety of winners,” said Christopher Lantinen, director of the Center for Branding and Strategic Communication, who will serve as Edinboro’s lead. “Last year, first place was a scheduling tool for college students; second place dealt with safety and electric vehicles; and third place was a service for cosplayers. Students have the opportunity to transform whatever passion they have into a future.”


Eligible students include undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled full-time or part-time during the fall 2022 semester at a State System university.


The proposed ideas may be either for-profit businesses or nonprofit enterprises. Students must own the intellectual property they propose to make, distribute or sell in the Startup Challenge application.


A student or team who has already legally established a business is eligible to participate as long as the company has not received or generated more than $10,000 in total revenue or funding.


The awards for first, second and third place winners are intended to assist the winners in capitalizing, developing and growing their business venture. Prize money and in-kind services are valued as follows: first place – $10,000, second place – $6,000 and third place – $3,000.


All participants must submit a 2-minute pitch to the State System Startup Challenge by Dec. 9, 2022. The final round of the competition will be broadcast live on Pennsylvania Cable Network.


​Kutztown University graduate students Shantal Ewell and Kevin Smyth won the $10,000 first place prize in the 2021-2022 State System Startup Challenge. Ewell (business administration) and Smyth (student affairs) created a business plan for the Schedula Degree Planner – an online platform that would redefine the way college students and advisors interact.


For Pennsylvania Western University schools: Mark Lennon will be the faculty lead for California. Students may contact Lennon at or (724)938-5370. Cindy Nellis will be the lead for Clarion students. She can be reached at or (814) 393-2060. Lantinen’s contact information is clantinen@pennwest.eduand (814) 732-1275.