New York Business Plan Competition’s Mohawk Valley Regional Returning to SUNY Poly

New York Business Plan Competition’s Mohawk Valley Regional Returning to SUNY Poly

Thursday, January 25, 2024 - 15:36

Competition set for April 5. Students must register by March 1.

UTICA, NY – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) will once again be the host site of the Mohawk Valley regional of the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC), which will see college students from across the area compete for a total of $3,500 in prizes on April 5. The competition, organized by the Upstate Capital Association of New York, promotes entrepreneurial opportunities for students as they pitch their business plans and engage with mentors and judges from the business community. 

“NYBPC offers students extraordinary, perhaps once in a lifetime, opportunities to creatively develop new venture concepts that have the potential to positively transform lives and society,” said SUNY Poly Professor of Technology Management, Dr. Robert Edgell, who also serves as NYBPC’s regional chair for the Mohawk Valley competition. “Past participants have emphasized the usefulness and confidence-building that they experienced by collaborating with other team members, pitching to live audiences, and getting expert feedback.”

“The NYBPC fosters entrepreneurship by giving students the opportunity to gain insights and perspectives on developing new ventures through experiential education,” said Noa Simons, President and CEO of the Upstate Capital Association of New York. “Entrepreneurial skills are valuable for everyone, and we are excited to support that growth through the program.”

“Participating in the NYBPC opens doors to exceptional opportunities for students,” said SUNY Cobleskill’s Chief Economic Development Officer, Dr. Scott Ferguson. “Not only is it an opportunity, it is a unique addition to any young professional’s and aspiring entrepreneur’s resume, allowing them to bring a unique skill set to the table, appealing to future employers. This experience goes beyond the academic realm, fostering confidence, collaboration, and the invaluable skill of showcasing comprehensive ideas to live audiences. NYBPC is a catalyst for innovation, empowering students to make a lasting impact on the world they have the power to shape.”

SUNY Poly alum Elias Zeina (’17, MBA ’19) participated in the NYBPC twice as a student, first pitching an idea for a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant, and later refining it into “Lafa,” a restaurant that he’s brought to life post-graduation. The restaurant, located on Commercial Drive in New Hartford, has had great success and was recently recognized by the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce at their Business of the Year Awards.

“Participating in the NYBPC was a pivotal experience during my student years as I pitched two different business ideas. The transformative journey began as our team collaborated with professionals who played a crucial role in refining our concept into a potential business for our community,” said Zeina. “The constructive feedback received at the regional and state competitions not only honed our ideas but also equipped me with strategic planning, creative thinking skills, and the confidence to establish my own business. In 2021, Lafa Mediterranean, a fast-casual restaurant, emerged from this competition, underscoring the impactful outcomes possible. I wholeheartedly recommend every aspiring student entrepreneur to engage in this invaluable process.”

The competition is divided into six categories, called tracks, at all levels of competition. This year, the tracks include: 

o    Food & Agtech: Agricultural Technology, Food Product, Food Service 
o    Health & Wellbeing: Health IT, Life Science, Medtech, Wellbeing 
o    Learn, Work & Live: Education, Community Building, Productivity, Fintech 
o    Safety, Power & Mobility: Defense, Energy, Climate Tech, First Responder, Infrastructure, Mobility, Transportation  
o    Products & Hardware: Business plans don’t fall into other tracks 
o    Software & Services: Business plans don’t fall into other tracks 

Regional competitions, held in early-to-mid April, will take place in 10 areas across New York State, based on its 10 Economic Development Regions. These regions are: the Capital District; Central New York; the Finger Lakes; Long Island; Mid-Hudson Valley; Mohawk Valley; New York City; North Country; Southern Tier; and Western New York. 

Interested student teams from SUNY Poly, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Hamilton College, Hartwick College, Herkimer County Community College, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Mohawk Valley Community College, Pratt Munson, St. Elizabeth College of Nursing, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Cobleskill and Utica University are eligible to participate in the Mohawk Valley regional, but must apply to participate at this link by March 1

To better understand NYBPC and pitching, the Mohawk Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is offering a free webinar, “From Student to Startup: An Introduction to the New York Business Plan Competition,” on January 30 from 6-7 p.m. Students may register for this information session using this link by January 29.

Winners from each of the 10 regions will have the opportunity to submit their materials for a chance to earn a spot in the state finals, which takes place on April 25 in the Capital Region, and offers a grand prize of $25,000.

Students can find more information about the competition by visiting,