The road to the final $100K

Molloy student Mike Russo, won last year's regionals and went on to compete in Albany.

Entrepreneurial innovators from Long Island’s top colleges and universities will go head-to-head on Thursday in the regional round of the New York State Business Plan Competition.

With $30,000 in prizes and a shot at the state finals at stake, teams from Farmingdale State College, Hofstra University, NYIT and Stony Brook University will present their business ideas to a high-caliber panel of judges chaired by Steve Winick, managing director of Syosset private equity firm Topspin Partners and a longtime supporter of Long Island startups.

The day-long pitch-a-thon is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. at Farmingdale State’s Campus Center.

While regional bragging rights and the $30,000 pot are not nothing, the real prize is inclusion in the state finals of the seventh-annual NYBPC, scheduled for April 29 in Albany. More than $500,000 in potential startup seed money will be up for grabs, including a business-plan-redefining $100,000 grand prize.

Billed as the state’s “premier collegiate contest,” the NYBPC is a self-described “venture creation and innovation competition” designed to encourage entrepreneurship throughout New York’s college and universities. Regional rounds like the April 7 Farmingdale State contest are scheduled at schools throughout the state’s 10 economic zones, with the top teams from each region ticketed for the Albany finale.

In 2015, Molloy College student Mike Russo earned top honors in the Long Island regional round, topping the Best Overall and Products and Services categories with Sticky Quotes, a brand of inspirational post-it notes.

Other regional winners included Juice+, a technology to convert kinetic energy into battery power pitched by a team of SBU students; gourmet popcorn firm Pop Casa, presented by a Farmingdale State team; and Millennial Materials and Devices, a nanomaterial enterprise launched by SBU student Gaurav Lalwani and now a Start-Up NY tenant at the school’s incubator.

Alas, the Long Island teams were shut out in the 2015 finals, with UMA Bioseed – a Cornell University-born biotech firm that targets pathogens threatening crop yields – capturing the top prize and runner-up awards going to teams from SUNY Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Geneseo, Syracuse University and CUNY-Baruch College.

Since 2010, more than 1,600 teams from roughly 75 New York colleges and universities have pitched their ideas in the NYBPC, before judges including venture capitalists, angel investors and seasoned entrepreneurs. To date, more than $1.8 million in prizes has been award to the student entrepreneurs.