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The SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge includes three (3) rounds. The first round consists of a questionnaire and executive summary submittal for all applicants meeting the eligibility guidelines. The second round is submitting the business plan and is open only to first-round participants who are invited to submit for the second round. The third round is the final pitch and is open only to second round participants invited to develop a pitch. For the additional prizes (Woman, Minority, Veteran Business of the Year and Rural Business of the Year), the top 4 winners will only be eligible for these additional prizes if there are no other entrants from these categories.

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To participate in the 2023 Metro East Startup Challenge, prospective applicants must meet the following criteria:

1. An entrepreneur starting a for-profit small business enterprise or an existing for-profit small business established after April 30, 2020, regardless of State of initial operation;

2. For existing for-profit businesses, operations headquartered in the nine-plus county Metro East region (Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe, Randolph and now open to Macoupin, Montgomery and Fayette Counties!).

3. For an entrepreneur purchasing an existing business, the entity will not be considered a startup. Date will begin with previous ownership.

For pre-venture entrepreneurs, proposed new business operations will need to be located in these twelve counties;

4. No public governmental entities or public/private schools or universities may apply

Due to federal law, businesses concerning cannabis, gambling, or lobbying activities will not be considered for the competition.

A contestant is not eligible to compete in a future competition (under the same business) if they have previously won one of the top 4 prizes.)