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Home | News | Students to Compete for $10K in Venture Competition at UTEP
Mauricio Mercado and Leonardo Orea (middle), winners of the 2015 Paso Del Norte Venture Competition, stand with business mentor Bob Cook (far left) and UTEP College of Engineering Dean Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D. (far right).

Students to Compete for $10K in Venture Competition at UTEP

The 3rd annual Paso Del Norte Venture Competition + Expo (PDNVC+E) will take place March 4 and 5, 2016, with student teams competing to win a $10,000 grand prize. It will be hosted by The University of Texas at El Paso’s Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will kick off at 8:30 a.m. Friday, March 4 with an all-day expo as well as the first round of competition featuring student companies from the Paso del Norte region.

“Some companies have great ideas and solid business plans, but still fail because they lack critical capital or talent,” said Mike Loya Center Director of Operations Aaron Cervantes. “This broad regional collaborative effort will once again connect innovative businesses with resources and networks from the region and beyond, while showcasing the region’s student entrepreneurs.”

In addition to the cash prize, the teams will receive valuable feedback from seasoned investors, venture capitalists and regional business leaders as to the next steps for undertaking their venture.

Teams will have the opportunity to leverage experts’ advice and receive valuable expansions to their network to successfully develop their ideas. Similarly, students have the opportunity to give continuity to their ideas by joining The Mine, UTEP’s student incubator.

PDNVC+E 2016 is hosted and sponsored by UTEP through the Mike Loya Center for Innovation and Commerce, a research center that sponsors, conducts and promotes three main avenues of research: research in innovation and commerce, research for commercialization of innovation, and research in entrepreneurship education. The center’s goal is to enhance the region’s economy through innovation and entrepreneurship.

The center was founded in 2012 through generous contributions from UTEP alumnus Mike Loya to connect the College of Business Administration and the College of Engineering as part of an ecosystem that fosters innovation and commerce with regional partners.

In March 2015, PDNVC+E 2015 featured 15 student teams. Student competition winners from UTEP, ProductivityPod, received the funds needed to generate the first prototype of the company’s product and launch a minor marketing campaign.


Expo & Elevator Pitch (4 to 8 p.m.)

When: Friday, March 4

Where: El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center, UTEP campus

Description: Student teams showcase their ventures for public audience. Free and open to the public.

Opening Round (9 a.m. to noon)

When: Friday, March 4

Where: College of Business Administration, UTEP campus



Description: All student teams participate in business plan presentations and pitches.


Challenge Rounds (8 to 11:30 a.m.)

When: Saturday, March 5

Where: College of Business Administration, UTEP campus


Description: All student teams that are not in the finals compete for a chance to win cash prizes.
Final Round (11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

When: Saturday, March 5

Where: El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center, UTEP campus

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