Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016 announces details of two new business challenge competitions for Oct. 19-21 event in Flint

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#UES2016 brings business innovators, academics and community leaders together to solve urban problems using for-profit business solutions

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, 248.260.8466; barbara@eafocus.com

Detroit –Sept. 8, 2016 –The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative is pleased to announce the details of two new business challenge competitions in conjunction with the third annual Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium, to be held Oct. 19 to 21 in Flint, Mich. The 2016 Symposium (#UES2016) follows sold-out events in Detroit in 2015 and Ann Arbor in 2014 and convenes entrepreneurs and thought leaders in business, academia, community organizations and government to facilitate business solutions that bring economic opportunity and quality of life improvements to urban communities. The announcement was made by W. David Tarver, founder and president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative and the chief event organizer.

“Urban entrepreneurship isn’t a social program, it’s business innovation that produces needed products and services for urban communities, or makes a significant number of jobs available to urban residents,” Tarver said. “The business challenge competitions represent urban entrepreneurship in action, with limited barriers to entry.”

The 2016 Urban Infrastructure Challenge, managed by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship in cooperation with the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, charges participants with developing a business model that will address an important infrastructure need experienced by Flint and similarly situated communities. The business model presented must take into account actual circumstances of the Flint community and describe a profitable, sustainable, scalable business. The business model may represent a product or a service, but must offer a novel solution that embodies significant innovation. Entries must address one of the following infrastructure elements:

 Transportation: e.g. connected cars, public transportation, autonomous vehicles
 Physical Infrastructure: water mains, roadways, electrical grid
 Telecommunication: embedded sensors, internet-of-things (IoT), high-speed internet
 Civic Engagement: enhance the connections between residents and civic institutions

Participants must be high school graduates, 18 years of age or older. The competition is for individuals or new teams, not established companies. The winning entry will receive a $2,500 cash award and an advisory session on strategy, funding, marketing and more with Flint-based SkyPoint Ventures and, separately, the U-M Center of Entrepreneurship. Deadline for submission is Oct. 4. All details and registration information are available here.

The 2016 Urban Jobs Challenge, managed by the U-M Flint School of Management in cooperation with the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, seeks to identify innovative business startups that will result in a significant number of entry-level jobs in places like Flint. The business model may represent a product or service but must take into account the actual circumstances of the Flint community and describe a profitable, sustainable, scalable business that embodies significant innovation. Participation requirements and prizes are similar to those of the Urban Infrastructure Challenge. The winning entry will receive a $2,500 cash award and an advisory session on strategy, funding, marketing and more with Flint-based SkyPoint Ventures and, separately, the U-M Flint School of Management. All details and registration information are available here.

A Flint native, Tarver holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and also lectures in U-M’s Center for Entrepreneurship. In 1983, at age 30, he launched Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc., a telecommunications instrumentation business, and sold it in 1995 for $30 million. Working as group president for the company’s buyer, Tarver then spearheaded development of a telecommunications group with a market value of more than $2 billion. He left that business in 1999 to devote more time to family and community service, ultimately returning to Southeast Michigan in 2007.

“To be viable in the long run, the Flint community must change its story from crisis and despair to entrepreneurial innovation and economic revitalization,” Tarver said. “#UES2016 will bring together the best minds in the city, region and country to give a boost to that process, with the Urban Infrastructure Challenge and Urban Jobs Challenge harnessing the energy of solution-oriented innovators.”

Registration information and event details for #UES2016 can be found at www.urbanei.org. For corporate sponsorship information, please call the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative at (313) 457-2050 or email info@urbanei.org. Leading academic sponsors of #UES2016 are Mott Community College, The University of Michigan – Flint School of Management, The University of Michigan – Center for Entrepreneurship and The University of Michigan – Innovate Blue.

About the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, founded by W. David Tarver, a technology entrepreneur, Michigan native and author of “Proving Ground: A Memoir,” is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation offering programming and resources that encourage, facilitate and enable the development of for-profit businesses that explicitly and intentionally address the needs of urban communities. Learn more here.

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