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Program aims to jumpstart Nevada upstarts

Associated Press Modified: November 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm •  Published: November 24, 2012
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Have an idea for a business venture? A statewide competition is under way with a top prize of $100,000 to help you get started.

The online effort was quietly launched in late October to jumpstart an upstart Nevada company and feed the state's entrepreneurial spirit while setting new heights for economic diversity.

It's called Project Vesto, a competition announced via social media to coincide with Nevada Day, celebrated this year on Oct. 26.

"We the people of Nevada launch Project Vesto, in Nevada, for Nevada, on Nevada Day, giving new life with our battle-born business rebirth," the project's website proclaimed.

The idea is to give budding entrepreneurs a shot at $100,000 to take their business concept from the drawing board to reality. Half of the funding — $50,000 — is being provided by the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

"We're looking for people with great ideas," said Daniel Herr, program manager at Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization, which is spearheading the competition under a contract with the governor's economic development agency.

Established as a nonprofit in 2007, NIREC helps fosters collaboration between academics, investors and entrepreneurs to bolster innovation and economic activity.

"This is the first time anything like this in the state has ever been done," said Nicola Kerslake, NIREC vice president.

The competition is named after Vesto Slipher, a noted American astronomer and innovator who is "representative of the qualities needed by today's entrepreneurs," Herr said.

The application deadline has been extended until Dec. 31. To be considered, brevity is a must.

Contest rules call for a one-page business model canvas, detailing partners, activities, resources, propositions, customer relationships, customer segments, channels, cost structure and revenue streams.

"Please note: If you turn in more than one page, you will automatically be disqualified," the rules state.

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