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Competition set for 100-Hour Wiscontrepreneur Challenge

February 9, 2010 By Stacy Forster

What can you do with 100 hours and $15 in materials from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s surplus shop?

In the past, competitors in the 100-Hour Wiscontrepreneur Challenge have created a dorm room terrarium from test tubes, made a dress from air filters and developed an alarm for safety heaters.

The contest is sponsored by the UW–Madison Office of Corporate Relations and supported by a grant from the Kaufmann Foundation.

This year’s challenge begins on Wednesday, Feb. 17, with the sale of items from UW–Madison’s Surplus With a Purpose (SWAP), which runs from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at Sellery Hall, 821 W. Johnson St. Entrants will receive $15 vouchers to purchase materials for use in their products.

Contestants have until 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, to complete their entries by posting a digital photo slide show, electronic slide show, video or other electronic communication about their creations to a publicly accessible Web site.

While no registration is necessary, all participants or teams must pick up their $15 vouchers and purchase their materials at the SWAP sale on Feb. 17. The 100-Hour Wiscontrepreneur Challenge is open to any student registered at a two-year or four-year Wisconsin institution.

For the second year, the 130 students in Jeanan Yasiri‘s class on entrepreneurship in society will compete individually or in teams.

Yasiri, executive director of the UW–Madison Center for Nonprofits, says it’s important to engage students by pushing them out of their comfort zones and getting them involved in hands-on projects such as the 100-Hour Challenge, because they need to see what they’re capable of contributing and producing.

“It was such a rich experience that I just knew it was going to make sense for them to do it again this year,” Yasiri says. “A lot of people just presume entrepreneurism is about building more business, but it really is about identifying innovative concepts in all sectors, and that’s what we talk about in this class.”

Yasiri says she enjoyed seeing what students developed, which ranged from practical things to the more whimsical and creative, such as the air filter dress.

Contestants will be competing for $300 prizes in three categories — most value (money) generated, most social value generated and most creative — while a $100 people’s choice prize will be awarded to the entry most accessed or viewed online.

Winners will be announced Monday, March 1.

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