Applications are now being accepted for the RISE Collaborative Collegiate Business Plan Competition.

RISE Collaborative is looking for college students who see a solution to a problem and have an idea for a business they would like to bring to Southern Virginia.

Students are eligible if they are attending a college located in Southern Virginia or have a home address in Southern Virginia but are attending college elsewhere in the state.

High school students in a dual enrollment program are also eligible. Any major is welcome, and students are able to participate as a team or as an individual. 

The competition is a six-month program that begins at noon Monday when applications are due and extends through the entire academic year, culminating in April with the final pitch before a panel of judges.

Jacob Dolence, honors faculty at Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars at Longwood University, is one of the leaders that will be guiding the aspiring entrepreneurs who enter the competition. Faculty and staff from Averett University, Hampden-Sydney College, Patrick & Henry Community College, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and the SOVA Innovation Hub are also involved in planning the competition program. 

“I participated in a business plan competition in college, and it is still an experience I lean on today,” said Dolence. “​The ability to identify challenges and create entrepreneurial solutions is a skill that will serve students in all career paths. Your idea could be the next big thing for Southern Virginia, and if not, you still walk away with an amazing learning experience to talk about in future job interviews.” 

Teams that make it to the second round will be required to find a mentor, which RISE Collaborative will assist with finding, if needed. Mentorship is an important part of any entrepreneurial journey, and Jacob Dolence says, “the opportunity to be paired with mentors and industry leaders will build your network and set a foundation for your future.”

In addition to mentorship, $10,000 in competition prizes will be awarded. Competition prizes are made possible by local support from Benchmark Community Bank and American National Bank and Trust Company. This program is sponsored by RISE Collaborative through a grant to support entrepreneurship development from GO Virginia Region 3.

Apply by noon on Monday by visiting