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February 22, 2007

Cash-Prize Contests, Lessons from Pros to Mark Entrepreneurship Week at UMBC

Erickson Speech, Business Idea Contests Highlight Events as UMBC Spreads Entrepreneurial Spirit Across Campus

Photo Caption: Read more about UMBC's entrepreneurial community online.


Real world lessons and real cash prizes will highlight Entrepreneurship Week USA activities at UMBC next week as the University builds on momentum from a recent $2 million grant from the Kauffman Foundation to spread entrepreneurship education and training across campus.

Two business idea competitions for a total of $4,000 in cash prizes kick off the week on Monday, Feb. 26. The first contest is a student business plan competition with $1,000 at stake.

Later that day the “Fillmaster Challenge” begins. The contest offers a $3,000 prize for the best idea on an alternative market niche for a precision purified water dispenser system developed by Fillmaster Systems, Inc. The device currently helps pharmacists prepare reconstituted drugs more accurately and safely, but could easily adapt to other uses.

Real-world lessons from experienced entrepreneurial experts fill out the rest of the week as Retirement community and media entrepreneur John Erickson, founder and CEO of Erickson, Inc., will speak to students. Erickson’s latest venture, Retirement Living TV, a network aimed at those ages 55 and older, recently expanded to reach over 26 million households nationally through DirecTV as his retirement communities continue to expand nationwide. Erickson speaks from noon to 1 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 28, in UMBC’s Commons building room 312.

Earlier in the week, Ellen Hemmerly, executive vice president of the UMBC Research Park Corporation, will speak on the successful growth of techcenter@UMBC and bwtech@UMBC, the University’s on-campus, high-tech business incubator and accelerator programs. The incubator and research park have grown from concept to a high-demand location for startup and emerging tech companies in the region.

A recent, independent economic impact study of the techcenter and research park documented 841 direct jobs at the two facilities, which support more than 2,000 total jobs statewide and generate $2.1 million in income and property taxes for counties in the Baltimore region. Hemmerly will speak in The Commons room 331 from 2 to 3 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 27.

"The Kauffman grant allows us to take entrepreneurship programming to the next level," said Vivian Armor, director of the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at UMBC. Armor hopes the week’s activities expand awareness that entrepreneurship can be found beyond traditional definitions of business.

“Entrepreneurship can play an important role in all disciplines," Armor said. "Faculty and students pushing the envelope in science and technology, breaking new ground in the creative arts or crafting new solutions to society's problems can all be entrepreneurs. Some people don't even realize what they are doing is entrepreneurial."

For a full schedule of Entrepreneurship Week USA events at UMBC, please visit

Posted by crose at February 22, 2007 3:17 PM