Aldag Competition Returns, Features Additional Prizes and New Competition for UA Faculty and Staff Innovators

Woman presenting a plan

Deadline Extended! The intent-to-compete deadline has been further extended to April 2. Submit your preliminary concept today!

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Aldag competition will be moved to an online format for students on April 14-15 and for faculty/staff on April 16. Visit the competition website for all the details.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.— The University of Alabama’s annual celebration of student entrepreneurship and innovation, the Edward K. Aldag, Jr. Business Plan Competition, returns on April 14-16, 2020 with additional prize categories and a new and separate pitch competition just for UA faculty and staff. Also new this year is additional funding for innovative, technology-focused student and faculty/staff business concepts thanks to a generous contribution from the Alabama Power Foundation.

Taking place at the Bryant Conference Center on the UA campus online for 2020 and now in its fourth year, the competition has helped infuse dozens of budding companies with the resources needed to go into business.

Previous winners of the Aldag competition include outdoor recreation and travel platform Trips4Trade and video game developer High Five Studios.

“As we grow the entrepreneurial community here in Tuscaloosa, this competition is key in identifying nascent ideas that with some capital and coaching can enter into the marketplace,” said Dr. Theresa Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute.

Now an established tradition, the community business plan competition is now moving to its own day at a date to-be-determined. More info to follow about the community business plan competition soon.

Calling All Student Innovators

University of Alabama students, either as individuals or as part of a team, will again compete for a Grand Prize of $50,000 and additional prizes worth over $100,000. Over the course of a day, students pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges. The competition consists of two rounds, with the winners from the first round all competing in the final round.

New for 2020: UA Faculty and Staff Pitch Competition

Thanks to a partnership with UA’s Office for Research and Economic Development (ORED), an additional competition for faculty and staff is added for 2020. Employees with innovative business ideas can participate by doing a “shark tank” like three-minute pitch. ORED is providing a total of $10,000 in prize money ($5,000 first prize, $3,000 second prize and $2,000 third prize) with additional in-kind assistance available for the three top ideas.

More Prizes:  Alabama Power Foundation Innovative Technology Awards for Student and Faculty/Staff Competitions

New for this year is a series of special awards made possible by the Alabama Power Foundation. The Alabama Power Foundation Innovative Technology Awards for students offer three cash prizes totaling $10,000 ($5,000 first prize, $3,000 second prize and $2,000 third prize) for the most groundbreaking technology-focused ideas.

Furthermore, those three awards come with a scholarship for up to two members per winning team to attend the summer Crimson Entrepreneurship Academy. Students stay in Tuscaloosa and work on their business at The EDGE, located in the heart of Tuscaloosa. In addition to the winners being able to work on their ideas full time in the summer, participants will receive individual coaching and will be part of a learning program designed to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and hone their business concepts.

Moreover, the Alabama Power Foundation is sponsoring an additional $10,000 grand prize for the faculty and staff competition. The grand prize will go to a technology-focused idea that has potential to drive a new business or commercialization.

“The Office for Research and Economic Development is proud to partner with the Alabama Power Foundation to provide an opportunity for UA faculty and staff to participate in a business pitch competition,” said Dan Blakley, ORED’s associate vice president for economic and business engagement.

“We believe this event will encourage creativity and the application of collaborative research from our faculty and staff that will further enhance UA’s entrepreneurial culture and contribute to economic growth in Alabama.”

The Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute or AEI, an outreach unit of UA’s Culverhouse College of Business and partner with the Office for Research and Economic Development, organizes the Aldag competition and other events such as River Pitch while also  developing a number of programs to support future entrepreneurs and leaders of exiting growth businesses.

“The Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute plays a key role in enhancing our communities through their efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among students and faculty,” said Alabama Power Western Division vice president Mark Crews.

“Through the support from the Alabama Power Foundation, we are pleased to partner with UA to expand the competition and highlight technology-focused ideas. We strongly believe that these types of initiatives greatly impact the advancement of our state.”

Get Started

The first deadline for both student and faculty/staff competitors is April 2 when the intent to compete is due.

To prepare for the competition,  AEI is hosting a series of events and workshops to help develop ideas and pitch skills prior to the competition.

All the details about the competition, including upcoming workshops, entry requirements, rules, and guidelines are available at

The Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition is made possible with an endowed gift from Aldag, who is a class of 1986 Culverhouse alumnus, and the founder and CEO of Medical Properties Trust of Birmingham.

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