Funding for Rowan University’s Rohrer New Venture Competition (NVC) expands this year with a top prize of $30,000, the most ever awarded to a Rowan student start-up.
Held each April, the NVC encourages entrepreneurial start-ups across the University and awards winners with capital funding to help launch their business.
With the additional equity investment from the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund (RIVF), financial support for the winning student company expanded from a $4,000 top prize in 2022.
Dr. Eric Liguori, who heads the School of Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Rohrer College of Business, which will host the competition April 21, said funding for the winning entrant expanded this year to better seed that new venture for a successful launch.
“Rowan is keenly interested in supporting early-stage companies and student start-ups,” Liguori said. “The commitment from RIVF is about more than just money, it’s access to a network of sophisticated investors and a boost in legitimacy through the investment from the Fund.”
RIVF Managing Director Ernest Holtzheimer said the winning team will need to meet certain conditions to be eligible for the RIVF funding, including creating a legal entity that is majority owned and managed by a Rowan student, but with the top award from the RIVF they’ll receive not only an infusion of business capital but credibility to help attract additional funding from investors.
Michael Connallon, chair of the RIVF Board of Managers, said increasing the amount of funding awarded through the annual NVC is expected to make an already fertile environment for student startups even more attractive.
“For some, the award itself will be enough to hit their next milestone but the additional investment and backing from the RIVF can help accelerate additional scale for their company,” Connallon said. “Further support of student led ventures is a key component to the growth strategy for the broader University and community ecosystem.”
The competition is open to students from all Rowan colleges, schools and disciplines and this year it is expected to attract more than 50 competing teams.
The Rowan University Foundation created the RIVF in 2014 with $5 million to support new companies and to bolster the regional economy. The Fund expanded last year to $25 million, which made it among the largest for a public university regionally, as it supports scalable companies from within and outside the University with equity-based investments.
“Small businesses continue to be the strongest economic driver in America,” Holtzheimer said. “A number of the nation’s most successful startups were founded in a dorm room or elsewhere on a college campus. By encouraging students to further explore their business ideas through the process required by the New Venture Competition, and supporting those startups financially, we seek to help students succeed in meeting their entrepreneurial goals and dreams. We hope, in helping them become successful, they later hire Rowan students and alumni as employees too.”
For more information on the specifics of this investment opportunity, see this video overview by Liguori and Holtzheimer.