The annual competition, designed to foster interest in student entrepreneurship, is chaired by Plank in partnership with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. It's open to undergraduate and graduate-level students at U.S. colleges and universities, as well as recent graduates.
Six finalists will compete for $115,000 in cash prizes, coaching from successful businesses and services from leading edge companies.
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Judges for Friday's competition at the University of Maryland will include Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, Robin Thurston, founder and CEO of Under Armour subsidiary MapMyFitness, a digital fitness company, and Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, co-founders of SoulCycle, workouts that combine coaching with high-energy music. Among the products developed by this year's finalists are a sensor and software system that tracks dumpster volume and reroutes waste pickup; a handheld device that can diagnose malaria in one minute and the Gala breast pump, designed to be quiet, compact and discreet.