University’s College of Business ‘an ecosystem for entrepreneurship’

Nevada Dynamics wins $50,000 Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition award

Nevada Dynamics, a student business competition team, received $50,000 for winning the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition. From left to right: Dave Croasdell, Charles and Ruth Hopping professor of entrepreneurship and Sontag Entrepreneurship competition director; University President Marc Johnson; Nevada Dynamics team members Zachary Carlson, Erik Edgington, MacCallister Higgins and Nolan Young; College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis; College of Business Dean Greg Mosier.

University’s College of Business ‘an ecosystem for entrepreneurship’

Nevada Dynamics wins $50,000 Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition award

Nevada Dynamics, a student business competition team, received $50,000 for winning the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition. From left to right: Dave Croasdell, Charles and Ruth Hopping professor of entrepreneurship and Sontag Entrepreneurship competition director; University President Marc Johnson; Nevada Dynamics team members Zachary Carlson, Erik Edgington, MacCallister Higgins and Nolan Young; College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis; College of Business Dean Greg Mosier.

Nevada Dynamics, a student business competition team, received $50,000 for winning the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition. From left to right: Dave Croasdell, Charles and Ruth Hopping professor of entrepreneurship and Sontag Entrepreneurship competition director; University President Marc Johnson; Nevada Dynamics team members Zachary Carlson, Erik Edgington, MacCallister Higgins and Nolan Young; College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis; College of Business Dean Greg Mosier.

The University of Nevada, Reno's College of Business announced this year's winner of the Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition Monday, March 9. Nevada Dynamics, a hardware and software safety solution for unmanned autonomous systems, was the winner of the $50,000 award given each year to the student team who presents the best business plan.

 "Sontag is one of the largest awards for a student business competition that exists at a single American university," College of Business Dean Greg Mosier said.  

University alumnus Rick Sontag, '66, made the competition possible through a $1 million gift in 2011. The competition was established by the University's College of Business to develop the entrepreneurial capacities of University students and facilitate the creation of new businesses in Nevada. Sontag's hope for the award was that it would be less of a business plan competition and more of a business competition.  

"I have carefully read all the programs presented and it seems that as years go by the proposals become more practical and ready to implement into businesses," Sontag said. "I am truly impressed."  

Student competition team Navatar won $5,000 and second place for their business plan, a free indoor navigation system application for blind students. Two other finalist teams were also recognized for their participation: Burn Ready, a web-based event supply company and Adaption, a Bluetooth low-energy technology to make it easier to monitor activity in and outside of the home.  

The Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition is one of many ventures by the University's College of Business to become a community resource and focal point for entrepreneurship.  

In addition to the Sontag competition, the College of Business is also home to the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship. The center, which was made possible through a $5 million pledge from Fatih Ozmen '81 M.S. (electrical engineering) and Eren Ozmen '85 MBA, permanently supports and significantly enhances programs at the University that develop student entrepreneurial capacities. It also augments the educational offerings from other colleges and schools on campus by coordinating with them on new programs that require entrepreneurial training in areas such as science, engineering and journalism.  

"The University of Nevada, Reno is the state's land-grant University and one of the hallmarks of a land-grant is the engagement it has with communities," University President Marc Johnson said. "We're reaching out to engage in a 360-degree way and the College of Business is working with various businesses in our community and forming true partnerships."  

It is through these community partnerships that the University has become a hub for business start-ups.  

"There is so much buzz in our community around this topic," Dave Croasdell, the Charles and Ruth Hopping professor of entrepreneurship and Sontag Entrepreneurship competition director, said. "We consider it a tremendous advantage to be an ecosystem for entrepreneurship given the many programs and community partners helping make this all possible."   

Several ventures started at the University have received mentoring from Summit Venture Mentoring Service, a free community resource where selected entrepreneurs and ventures receive support from generally three or more mentors with various experiences and backgrounds. The team of mentors provide objective and unbiased advice to help navigate the daily challenges ventures face. 

Entrepreneurs Assembly is another community organization created to empower entrepreneurs to create and grow businesses in the Silver State. The founders, Matt Westfield and Rod Hosilyk, both teach in the Entrepreneurial program at the University - the College of Business offers six entrepreneurship classes as part of its undergraduate program and two classes as part of the MBA program. Additional northern Nevada programs with University ties include Entrepreneurship Nevada, started by Mark Pingle, Charles N. Mathewson Professor of Entrepreneurship and professor of economics at the University, The Nevada Small Business Development Center,  The Cube at Midtown and The Reno Collective.  

"There's never been a better time to become an entrepreneur in the Truckee Meadows," Croasdell said. "With a number of University and community resources available, people have the opportunity to seek professional insight and develop businesses that are well thought out, impactful and will likely make a difference locally, regionally and perhaps even nationally."  

Students interested in the Sontag competition are invited to attend workshops throughout the semester that help connect them with key leaders in the community and further develop their marketing and business plans. Learn more at www.unr.edu/sontag.

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