Big Ideas

Participants in the Tufts Business Plan Competition learn the ABCs of successful entrepreneurship

They come with ideas that range from products for everyone, such as a shower head that tells you when you’re using too much water, to niche markets, like a device to help patients with Parkinson’s disease communicate their feelings better. The participants in the Tufts Gordon Institute’s business plan competition have one thing in common: a desire to become successful entrepreneurs.

Since 2004, the Gordon Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program has sponsored the annual business plan competition that awards a total of $100,000 in cash and such in-kind support as legal and advisory services to the winning teams.

The competition attracts a cross-section of undergraduate and graduate students, alumni and faculty; each team must have at least one member with a Tufts connection. Following submission, screeners review and rank all the entries and select the top 10 to 12 finalists. Participants are then paired with experienced mentors to help them refine their ideas and prepare for the final competition. Finalists deliver their presentations to a panel of judges and audience members at the finale event, when the winners in each category are selected.

“The finale showcases some of the best entrepreneurial thinking at the university, and it’s exciting to see the progress of all the finalist teams,” says James Barlow, director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program.

Winning this spring’s classic competition was Cinzia Metallo, a doctoral student in neuroscience at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, for her company Myoelectra, which developed an electrode to help rehabilitate facial and throat muscles in patients with Parkinson’s disease. In the social entrepreneurship category, Eileen Guo, A11, and her team, EDx, took first place for a new diagnostic tool that would provide faster detection of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

Carla Eberle, the Gordon Institute’s manager of marketing and admissions, can be reached at

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