UA Culverhouse Alumnus Funds $50,000 Business Plan Competition

Edward K. Aldag, Jr.
Edward K. Aldag, Jr.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama students seeking to start their own business now have an opportunity to turn their idea into reality and receive startup funding.

The Edward K. Aldag, Jr. $50,000 Business Plan Competition, hosted by UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce, will award three students with the winning business plans startup funding and in–kind services.

“If you need a job, create one,” said Dr. J. Michael Hardin, dean of Culverhouse. “And this project is designed to do just that. It’s a great way for students to transform their ideas from concept to reality. Small business is key to economic growth, and the more we help fuel small businesses, the more we impact Alabama’s economy. ”

Students can apply for the business competition by submitting a three-minute video pitch, two-page executive summary and proposed budget by the Friday, Jan. 31 deadline. The competition includes a preliminary round, mentoring session and live finale Thursday, Feb. 27 at The Edge located in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The Edge is an entrepreneurial center of the Culverhouse College of Commerce that provides office workspace, training, materials and mentoring for students with a business idea. The City of Tuscaloosa and the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce are partners with Culverhouse and The Edge.

Judges will select from the initial pool of applicants to move on to a preliminary round that includes a live pitch. Those proceeding to the final round are required to participate in a 10-minute mentoring session and a 15-minute pitch prior to the live finale.

“With programs like the business plan competition and The Edge, we are creating an entrepreneurial environment that enables students to take an active role in creating their own jobs and success,” Hardin said. “The Edge is like a garage, an actual garage like the one in which Steve Jobs started Apple. We provide the “garage” or space and resources for students to start their business.”

The competition is made possible by Culverhouse alumnus Edward K. Aldag Jr., founder and CEO of Medical Properties Trust, Birmingham, and the Culverhouse College of Commerce.

“Ten years ago, I started a company with just an idea and determination,” Aldag said. “I got to experience the feeling of launching a company from scratch, seeing it listed on the New York Stock Exchange and nurturing its growth over just a decade to assets of approximately $3 billion in the U.S. and Europe. My experience as a student at The University of Alabama served me well in all these endeavors.”

Dr. J. Michael Hardin, dean of UA's Culverhouse College of Commerce
Dr. J. Michael Hardin, dean of UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce

“When Dean Hardin approached me about personally providing the funds for a business plan competition hosted by my alma mater, the Culverhouse College of Commerce, I was delighted to be in a position to give back,” Aldag added. “Ten years from now, I hope the winner of this competition will be in a position to do the same thing for other deserving students, because giving back is what it’s all about.”

“We are honored and thankful for Mr. Aldag’s gracious gift and support of what we are trying to do with students,” Hardin said. “His support of this project is instrumental in our continued goal of providing students with an entrepreneurial environment. Mr. Aldag is a generous alumnus who has become an outstanding entrepreneur himself.”

The competition is open to all current UA students, and students who already have an established business plan with sales for the last fiscal year that do not exceed $100,000 are also eligible.

“The business competition is always exciting. You see the students, and they are innovative and they have really great ideas, so to help them realize their dreams is huge and very rewarding,” said Dr. Louis Marino, professor of strategic management.

Culverhouse has been developing and hosting new venture competitions like this current business plan competition for 10 years.

For more information visit the Culverhouse website at


Edith Parten, UA media relations,, 205-348-8318