The Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) is once again seeking aspiring entrepreneurs with The Next Big Idea and will award $9,000 in prizes to students with the best business pitches this spring.

The Next Big Idea competition is open to Mercer undergraduate students, who may enter as individuals or teams of up to five people. Each individual or team may submit one idea, and each individual may participate on only one team.

Entrants are encouraged to seek the involvement of faculty, alumni, staff, fellow students and members of the local business community to provide feedback on the idea and on the deliverables.

“The Next Big Idea pitch competition meets a primary goal of the Mercer Innovation Center, which is to inspire a spirit of entrepreneurship among our students,” said Dr. Briana Stenard, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship in Mercer’s Stetson School of Business and Economics. “We are excited to help our students think innovatively and nurture their ideas. We are looking forward to the development of many new entrepreneurial ventures from this competition.”

Students may register by submitting their business ideas from Jan. 9-31.

Dr. Stenard will lead information sessions on Nov. 30 at 10:30 a.m. and Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. in the Mercer Innovation Center. Additionally, a mentoring workshop will be offered Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the MIC.

Submissions must include a two-minute video pitch and a one-page business canvas, due on March 15. Finalists will be announced on March 23, and on March 31 at 3 p.m., they will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. The finals, held in the Mercer Innovation Center, will be open to the entire University community to watch and support the student entrepreneurs.

The first-place team will be awarded $6,000, with $2,500 for second place, and a $500 Bear’s Choice Award for the video pitch receiving the most votes from Mercer students and faculty on the competition’s YouTube channel.

For more information on The Next Big Idea competition, email or Dr. Stenard at