Five people sitting in chairs onstage, speaking to an audience Five people sitting in chairs onstage, speaking to an audience

Record-Breaking Funding During 2023 Bridging Innovation Week

Innovation drives progress, and West Virginia’s 17th annual Business Plan Competitions hosted in Wheeling April 19 as part of Bridging Innovation Week showcased the rising entrepreneurial talent that will continue to fuel the progress of the state.

Hosted by the Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the West Virginia University John Chambers College of Business and Economics, the West Virginia Business Plan Competitions have grown over the last 17 years from a single competition for statewide college students to a trifecta of competitions for West Virginia high school students, college students and community members who aspire to grow an idea from concept to company.

Three panels of five judges awarded a record-breaking $165,000 in funding to nine teams across all three segments in this year’s competitions, seeding their next important steps in building their businesses.
“I was amazed by the professionalism and heart of each team,” said Tara St. Clair, who leads operations for WVU’s Encova Center. “Year after year, we continue to see elevated presentations. I am proud to work with the students who are bringing their ideas to life with tenacity and hustle.”

BRITE, $40,000

  • Nathaniel Wilmer, West Virginia University
  • Martin Dombrowski, West Virginia University
  • Jordan Anfinson, Denison College
  • Lukas Thackery, West Virginia University

The Lite Sleeper, $25,000

Dustin Ward, Veteran, University of Charleston West Virginia

Nate’s Handcrafted Nets, $15,000

  • Nate Arndt, West Virginia University
  • Caleb Hamner, West Virginia University

The Stable Boy, $35,000

Eva Toor, West Virginia University

YNST Magazine, $8,000

Adam Payne, West Virginia University

Highland Outdoors, $19,000

  • Nikki Forrester, Tucker County, West Virginia
  • Dylan Jones, Tucker County, West Virginia

Noble Growing System, $16,000

  • Bobby Noble, Monongalia County, West Virginia
  • Dylan Watkins, Monongalia County, West Virginia