EngenuitySC and Nephron Pharmaceuticals are seeking innovative ideas to move the Midlands forward via the $5,000 Ignite! Ideas Contest, to be held at the annual Ignite! economic competitiveness celebration on Nov. 16, 2016. Entrepreneurs can read contest details and enter online at http://engenuitysc.com/ignite/ignite-ideas-contest through October 24, 2016.

Any and all startups, small business owners, social entrepreneurs, savvy students, big thinkers and go-getters are encouraged to pitch forward-thinking, grassroots ideas that will contribute to landscape of the Midlands region. The winner of the $5,000 Ignite! Ideas Contest, sponsored by Nephron Pharmaceuticals, will be selected via live voting and announced on site after contestant video presentations at Ignite! in Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Venue details will be released soon.

A nonprofit economic development organization chaired by Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and University of South Carolina President Dr. Harris Pastides, EngenuitySC hosts Ignite! annually to celebrate innovation, entrepreneurship and economic competitiveness in the Midlands.

The sponsor of the Ignite! 2016 Ideas Contest, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, is a global leader in manufacturing generic respiratory medications utilizing blow-fill-seal technology. Nephron Pharmaceuticals recently moved its headquarters to West Columbia, S.C., right outside of owner and CEO Lou Kennedy’s hometown of Lexington.

“New, innovative ideas are what makes our Midlands community grow, thrive and succeed,” says Lou Kennedy, owner and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation. “EngenuitySC continually spins the wheel of fresh, excited minds with engaging initiatives like Ignite!, and Nephron Pharmaceuticals could not be prouder to be part of it.” Kennedy adds, “We can’t wait for a motivated entrepreneur to be able get started on their big idea to improve our community with this $5,000 in seed money.”
How does it work?

Contestants must submit a two-minute video thoroughly describing their innovative, exciting or just plain awesome concept to positively impact the Midlands, outlining the intended use of the $5,000 prize money. Contestants upload the video to a service such as YouTube or Vimeo, then submit the video link and short entry form at http://engenuitysc.com/ignite/ignite-ideas-contest. While the ideas are what really matter, the videos will be shared online with potential voters, so quality is important.

The contestants with the top five vetted submissions will present their ideas in person to judges at EngenuitySC, who will vote on the top three finalists. From there, the three finalists’ videos will be shared online and at Ignite! on November 16, where event attendees will vote in a live voting session, selecting the winning idea. After votes are tallied – mere minutes later – the winner will be announced live on stage in front of hundreds of local business and community leaders and will receive the $5,000 Ignite! Ideas Contest check from Nephron Pharmaceuticals.

“Working with these entrepreneurs each year is such a dose of positive energy – truly one of the highlights of the work we do,” notes Meghan Hickman, executive director of EngenuitySC. “There are so many wildly talented minds here in the Midlands, and we love helping them jump to the next level with their ideas. We hope that even more applicants take a chance, shoot their video, and make that first leap to enter the contest.”
How did the $5000 prize impact last year’s winner?

The Ignite! 2015 Ideas Contest winner, Vincent Felix, used the $5,000 prize money to grow his startup, Mr. Penguin Designs, a company that sells one-of-a-kind, protective cell phone cases designed by local, student artists who receive commissions for their artwork. A University of South Carolina alum, Felix founded Mr. Penguin Designs to be a platform where students can gain exposure for their work while collecting residual income throughout college. Mr. Penguin Designs collaborates with University of South Carolina student media organizations to create fully integrated campaigns to reach audiences both on campus and in the Midlands community. Learn more and shop online at http://mrpenguindesigns.com.
Who can enter?

South Carolinians living in the Midlands (Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Saluda Counties)
Organizations (if entering on behalf of an organization, list your pitch person as the main contact)
Students (including those who are entering the USC Proving Ground competition, which is limited to the USC community)
Sorry; past Ignite! Ideas Contest winners are not eligible to enter
To learn more about Ignite!, visit http://www.engenuitysc.com/ignite and follow the #IgniteCAE hashtag and EngenuitySC on Twitter.
Facebook: Facebook.com/EngenuitySC | Twitter: EngenuitySC