The Batten Institute at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and the Tom Tom Founders Festival are co-sponsoring a crowd-sourced entrepreneurial contest.
Three winners will have a chance to receive part of a $10,000 prize, along with support from Darden’s newly expanded innovation laboratory, i.Lab, at the University of Virginia, which is set to reopen April 11.
The i.Lab first opened in 2010. When completed later this year, the expanded facility will be renamed the W.L. Lyons Brown Innovation Laboratory. Brown is a Darden alumnus who made a substantial funding contribution to the project.
“We want to launch this community incubator through this community festival and really put some skin in the game,” Tom Tom festival founder Paul Beyer said Thursday.
In 2012, the festival’s inaugural year, Beyer said Tom Tom attracted 6,700 people to about 30 free events. Nearly 80 musical acts performed and the festival also included two block parties. The entrepreneurial competition, dubbed "U.Pitch. C’ville Decides.," will coincide with the opening night of the festival and the i.Lab’s formal reopening. Event attendees will choose the competition's top three winners.
“We’ve certainly been aware of Tom Tom for quite a while and it seemed to us that what Tom Tom was trying to accomplish, which was to promote innovation and creativity, is very much in line with what we do at the Batten institute and at Darden,” said Philippe Sommer, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Darden.
“It’s a community festival, so businesses — whether they’re community banks or tech firms or biotech businesses — they all see the benefit of this festival that can put Charlottesville on the map as an entrepreneurial hub and a creative hub,” Beyer said.
The first-place winner of U.Pitch. C’ville Decides. will receive $5,000; second place, $3,000; and third place will receive $2,000.
“This is part of a bigger endeavor to make Charlottesville a more innovative and entrepreneurial community,” Sommer said. “We have all the infrastructure and resources, so one of the things that Darden thought it could do was reach out to the community and offer the same kind of support that we would offer our Darden students to someone from the community who wants to start a business.”
The i.Lab space, part of which was previously a kitchen and a dining room, will be converted into classrooms, conference and community gathering spaces, as well as work and office space for startup businesses. The expansion project’s total cost is about $1.3 million, according to Batten spokeswoman Joyce Smaragdis.
"I wanted to collaborate with the leaders of the Darden community and our alumni base in a manner that delivered our vision quickly and which puts us in a position to deliver an incubator against which our strongest competitors will benchmark themselves," Brown said in a 2012 announcement about the project.
The application process for U.Pitch. C’ville Decides. will open March 1 and close April 5. Applications will be available on the Tom Tom and Batten Institutes's websites in mid-February.
More information about 2013 Tom Tom festival is available at tomtomfest.com.