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College students to vie for prize at entrepreneurial pitch summit

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In a series of 10-minute lightning rounds, students from six area colleges will have a chance tonight to make their best case for why their business idea should win the $2,000 top prize at the Lehigh Valley Collegiate Business Pitch Summit.

Now in its second year, the competition was created by Lehigh Valley Tech and is hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania in its building at Lehigh University.

The students’ ideas span a wide range, from the Lehigh University team’s plan for a device that can connect women to emergency services to thwart off attack, to a platform created by the Muhlenberg College team that connects lawyers working with refugees to help expedite legal research.

Wayne Barz, manager of entrepreneurial services at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, said the idea behind the competition is to expose students who are involved in their college’s entrepreneurship programs to the wider business community and to facilitate networking.

“It gives them a chance to get out of the campus setting and to see how their idea holds up against other students’ ideas,” Barz said.

It’s also a chance for the students to win some much-need prize money. The second place winner will receive $1,000.

The competition attracts about 50 students and some of the region’s largest employers are sponsors of the event.

Barz said the sponsors will have a chance to meet with students “who think like entrepreneurs, who are outside-the-box, creative problem solvers. It’s a chance to mix the two groups together.”

This year’s judges will be Eric Luftig, vice president at Victaulic; Mike Rice, vice president of marketing at Follett Corp. and Anthony Durante, program manager for Bridgeworks Enterprise Center at the Allentown Economic Development Center.

Joe Tracy, vice president for Telehealth services at Lehigh Valley Health Network, will speak about innovation at the network.

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