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Posted on Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Student entrepreneurship contest gets more than 3,300 submissions

By Kellie Woodhouse

University of Michigan's fourth-annual student-run 1,000 Pitches entrepreneurship contest received a record number of pitches this year.

The group received 3,303 video pitches of entrepreneurial ideas from U-M students, topping last year's pitch total of 3,031.

Those ideas include everything from a combined washing and drying machine to a robotic mosquito swatter to the instillation of coffee carts at the university's bus stops.

1,000 Pitches will announce winners on Sunday, Dec. 11. The contest closed Nov. 18.

The 1,000 Pitches contest began in 2008 as an initiative to "create the entrepreneurial spirit of change and innovation at Michigan," project co-director Najia Yarkhan said last month. This year, winners in nine separate categories will be given $1,000 each.

MPowered, the student group that sponsors 1,000 Pitches, also held its first summit in association with the contest on Dec. 3. The summit is a way to broaden the reach of 1,000 pitches, leaders said.

"The summit at the end (allows participants) to network with sponsors and each other," Yarkhan said. "We wanted to increase quality over last year."

At the summit,1,000 Pitches participants mingled with the event's sponsors —which include Ann Arbor's SPARK, Bizdom, Google, Quicken Loans, Mobiata, Pure Michigan, Energy Stage Partners, Menlo Innovations and several other local businesses.

Winners will also have a chance to tour local Google and Quicken Loans offices.

Thomas Madigan, a U-M junior who has worked with the project for three years, said the summit is one more way the 1,000 Pitches contest has become more established over the years.

"It’s getting a little more well known and through that turning into an overall better competition," he said.

Take a look at the finalists here.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.