Competitors present during a business competition.

Aldag Competition Features New Prizes for Faculty, Staff Innovators

Competitors present during a business competition.
A separate pitch competition just for UA faculty and staff will become part of the student entrepreneur celebration.

The University of Alabama’s annual celebration of student entrepreneurship and innovation, the Edward K. Aldag, Jr. Business Plan Competition, returns April 14 with additional prize categories and a new and separate pitch competition just for UA faculty and staff.

Also new this year is additional funding for innovative, technology-focused student and faculty/staff business concepts thanks to a generous contribution from the Alabama Power Foundation.

“As we grow the entrepreneurial community here in Tuscaloosa, this competition is key in identifying nascent ideas that, with some capital and coaching, can enter into the marketplace,” said Dr. Theresa Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute.

The event, to be held in UA’s Bryant Conference Center, is in its fourth year. It has helped infuse dozens of budding companies with the resources needed to go into business.

Thanks to a partnership with UA’s Office for Research and Economic Development, an additional competition for faculty and staff is added for 2020. Employees with innovative business ideas can participate by doing a “shark tank” like three-minute pitch. ORED is providing $10,000 in prize money ($5,000 first prize, $3,000 second prize and $2,000 third prize) with additional in-kind assistance available for the three top ideas.

In addition to its support of students, the Alabama Power Foundation is sponsoring an additional $10,000 grand prize for the faculty and staff competition. The grand prize will go to a technology-focused idea that has potential to drive a new business or commercialization.

“The Office for Research and Economic Development is proud to partner with the Alabama Power Foundation to provide an opportunity for UA faculty and staff to participate in a business pitch competition,” said Dan Blakley, associate vice president for economic and business engagement in ORED.

“We believe this event will encourage creativity and the application of collaborative research from our faculty and staff that will further enhance UA’s entrepreneurial culture and contribute to economic growth in Alabama,” Blakley said.

Previous winners of the Aldag competition include outdoor recreation and travel platform Trips4Trade and video game developer High Five Studios.

The Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, a unit of UA’s Culverhouse College of Business and partner with the Office for Research and Economic Development, organizes the Aldag competition.

“The Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute plays a key role in enhancing our communities through their efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among students and faculty,” said Mark Crews, Alabama Power Western Division vice president. “Through the support from the Alabama Power Foundation, we are pleased to partner with UA to expand the competition and highlight technology-focused ideas. We strongly believe that these types of initiatives greatly impact the advancement of our state.”

Get Started

The first deadline for both student and faculty/staff competitors is March 11 when the intent to compete is due.

To prepare for the competition, AEI is hosting a series of events and workshops to help develop ideas and pitch skills prior to the competition. Details about the competition, including upcoming workshops and guidelines, are available at

The Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition is made possible with an endowed gift from Aldag, who is a class of 1986 Culverhouse alumnus, and the founder and CEO of Medical Properties Trust of Birmingham.

University of Alabama students, either as individuals or as part of a team, compete for a grand prize of $50,000 and additional prizes worth more than $100,000. Students pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges. Winners from the first round compete in a second.

Now an established tradition, the community business plan competition is moving to its own day, April 28, and will take place at The EDGE. Watch for more information on it.