Dr. Albert Cannella wants to develop the entrepreneurial spirit among students at Texas A&M University, and as director of the college’s Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE), he’s in a prime position to do just that.

This fall, the center, which is part of the Department of Management, is sponsoring a Business Idea Competition. Open to all Texas A&M students, the competition aims to encourage students to think outside the box.

While many business schools host business plan competitions, Cannella believes the Business Idea Competition is more conducive for busy students. And, by opening it to the entire Texas A&M student body, students in other colleges can put their ideas to the test.

“A business idea competition would permit students to develop their business ideas without the intensive time and effort required by a business plan competition,” says Cannella. “A lot of business schools host business plan competitions, which are aimed mainly at advanced undergraduates and MBA students. I wanted to modify these ideas into a contest that regular students from across the university could enter.”

A panel of Mays faculty members and business executives will select the top 50 entries. From there, they will pick the best 20 entries, which will each receive a $1,000 prize. The deadline for entries is Feb. 1, 2002.

By working with corporate sponsors, such as Microsoft, Accenture and Neutral Posture Ergonomics, the center is also offering seminars to help students think through the process. Topics will include finding and developing a business idea; identifying customers and analyzing their needs; and analyzing competition and competitors.

Through projects such as the Business Idea Competition, the CNVE continues to reach out to the campus and business communities. Ultimately, Cannella says this will provide students greater opportunities and exposure.

“The Mays College wants to develop and market graduates who are business-savvy, technically expert professionals,” Cannella says. “CNVE can help in that process by lighting the fires of the entrepreneurial spirit in our students.”