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SUNY Poly to host regional New York Business Plan Competition for college students

By Traci DeLore (


MARCY, N.Y. — SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) will serve as the host site for the Mohawk Valley region in the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC).

The competition, which is set for April 5, involves college students from across the area competing for a total of $3,500 in prizes.

Organized by the Upstate Capital Association of New York, the competition promotes entrepreneurial opportunities for students as they pitch their business plans and engage with mentors and judges from the business community.

“NYBPC offers students extraordinary, perhaps once in a lifetime, opportunities to creatively develop new venture concepts that have the potential to positively transform lives and society,” Robert Edgell, professor of technology management at SUNY Poly, said in a press release announcing the contest. “Past participants have emphasized the usefulness and confidence building that they experienced by collaborating with other team members, pitching to live audiences, and getting expert feedback.”

Edgell also serves as NYBPC’s regional chair for the Mohawk Valley competition.

The categories, or tracks, for the competition are food and “agtech” including agricultural technology, food products, and food service; health and wellbeing including health IT, life science, “medtech”, and wellbeing; learn, work, and live including education, community building, productivity, and “fintech”; safety, power, and mobility including defense, energy, climate tech, first responder, infrastructure, mobility, and transportation; products and hardware for business plans that don’t fall into other tracks; and software and services for business plans that don’t fall into other tracks.

Regional competitions take place from early to mid-April in 10 regions across the state, based on the state’s 10 economic-development regions.

In the Mohawk Valley region, interested student teams from SUNY Poly, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Hamilton College, Hartwick College, Herkimer County Community College, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Mohawk Valley Community College, Pratt Munson, St. Elizabeth College of Nursing, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Cobleskill, and Utica University are eligible to compete in the Mohawk Valley regional, but must apply by March 1.

Winners from each of the 10 regions will have the opportunity to submit their materials for a chance to earn a spot in the state finals, which take place April 25 and offer a grand prize of $25,000.

SUNY Poly alum Elias Zenia participated in the NYBPC twice as a student, first pitching an idea for a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant and later refining it into Lafa, a restaurant he has opened since graduating. Located on Commercial Drive, the successful restaurant was recently recognized by the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce at its Business of the Year awards.

“Participating in the NYBPC was a pivotal experience during my student years as I pitched two different business ideas,” Zenia said. “The transformative journey began as our team collaborated with professionals who played a crucial role in refining our concept into a potential business for our community. The constructive feedback received at regional and state competitions not only honed our ideas but also equipped me with strategic planning, creative thinking skills, and the confidence to establish my own business. In 2021, Lafa Mediterranean, a fast-casual restaurant, emerged from this competition, underscoring the impactful outcomes possible.”

Students can find more information  about the competition by visiting


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