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Innovation Challenge returns for second year to foster young entrepreneurs in Starkville

The Greater Starkville Development Partnership and Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, CEO,  in the College of Business at MSU are once again collaborating to bring the Innovation Challenge competition to Oktibbeha county students grades 6-12.

Sponsored by International Paper, the contest is a hands-on opportunity for innovative Oktibbeha County middle & high school students to experience a real-world entrepreneurial process, and compete for cash prizes totaling $2,000.

Interim CEO of the Partnership Jennifer Prather said, “Starkville is moving forward with an unbelievable entrepreneurial momentum right now and this program is an exciting way to get younger students in our community involved.”

Prather said one of the main focus areas of the Partnership is education, and this joint effort with the e-Center and local schools in Oktibbeha county is yet another example of cultivating educational opportunities.

MSU College of Business Director of Outreach Jeffrey Rupp echoed his excitement about the Innovation Challenge.

“The MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach is once again excited to be a part of the Starkville Innovation Challenge.  Our student startups are looking forward to mentoring area high schoolers to help them make their ideas a reality,” said Rupp.

During the 4-week, teacher-led program, participating individuals and teams will develop and pitch their own business ideas and plans, spend a day at the MSU e-Center learning and exploring business development, work with MSU students and staff, and sit in on MSU’s monthly pitch competition.

The program concludes with a competition for  $2000 in total prizes, as well as scholarships to the MSU ICreate Entrepreneurship Summer Camp.

There will be a Parent/Student Kick-Off Meeting at one of the e-Center’s most successful startup businesses, GLO, at 5:30 pm, on Tuesday, March 5. Tyson Lee, another start-up success in Starkville, will be guest speaker. GLO is located at 419 East Lampkin Street. To apply for the program or learn more, visit

For further information regarding the challenge, contact Jeffrey Rupp at (662)-364-7021 or by email at

The Partnership is comprised of the Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce, Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Starkville Main Street Association.