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NextUp Statewide Student Pitch Competition to be held April 13

JACKSON, Miss.—The Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum (MEF) announces the inaugural NextUp Statewide Student Pitch Competition, which will be held on April 13, 2021, to kick off their 6th annual forum designed to bring together the innovation community and discuss resources and strategies for Mississippi entrepreneurs.

Student entrepreneurs from all Mississippi colleges, universities, and community colleges are invited to compete in this rapid-fire contest, pitching their pioneering business ideas to a distinguished panel of judges comprised of the state’s top entrepreneurs and investors. Students can compete in categories of competition that include “pre-revenue” and “post-revenue” divisions, as well as technology-based and traditional business ideas.

“This is the first statewide, student-only pitch competition of its kind. We hope to allow Mississippi students to compete and engage with other student entrepreneurs across the different campuses,” said Tasha Bibb, director of entrepreneurial development at Innovate Mississippi. “Our goal is to create a community of student entrepreneurs who band together to share, grow and develop a culture of collaborative student entrepreneurship in Mississippi.”

The two-day Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum (April 13-14) will take place virtually and is coordinated by the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi. This NextUp Statewide Student Pitch Competition is sponsored by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and is being coordinated by Innovate Mississippi. The forum provides working opportunities for aspiring business owners and thriving entrepreneurs to share practical information about building their businesses.

“MDA is pleased to be a primary sponsor of the student entrepreneurial competition,” said Joe Donovan, director of The Entrepreneur and Innovation Center at MDA. “Mississippi’s future is dependent upon the creativity of our young people. Mississippi’s youth have consistently demonstrated that they can lead in global innovation; they simply need our support.”

Participants will be screened and selected before the event. The student entrepreneurs will then work with a mentor to prepare for the competition. Mentors include angel investors and business professionals who are matched with participants based on their areas of expertise and experience. Judging will be based on the students’ pre-recorded video pitch and executive summary.

NextUp’s judges will name winners from each division, and winning teams will receive cash prizes. The participants also vie for in-kind professional services from supporting service providers such as attorneys, accountants, and web designers to help grow their businesses.

The NextUp team will announce the student winners virtually during Day Two of the Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum on April 14, 2021. If you are a student interested in competing for cash and in-kind prizes at NextUp, please apply before March 8. Selected participants will be paired with a mentor to help prepare for the competition.

If you are interested in attending the Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum and hearing the pitches, or if you would like to apply to pitch in the NextUp contest, please contact Tasha Bibb at or 601-960-3610; or click here for more information about how to apply.

The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi partners with Mississippi communities to fight poverty and transform lives through education, innovation and entrepreneurship.  For more information visit

Innovate Mississippi is a nonprofit organization with the mission to drive innovation and technology-based economic development for the State of Mississippi. Visit to learn more.

Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), the state’s leading economic and community development agency, is committed to fostering an environment to promote small business development by focusing on new business recruitment, existing industry expansion, workforce training, and tourism.