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Virtual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competitions

It is a fact that we are living through unprecedented times. But, we should be grateful that we have the ability to change our long-held habits and start creating new ways for solving the present issues we are facing in order to make the world a better place.

Entrepreneurs are no exception and they adopt to change probably faster than other segments of society. While they create innovative products and services to fight the existing pandemic, they are also changing their own ways and procedures in increasing the entrepreneurial mind set throughout the globe.

As the following example shows, while innovation and entrepreneurship competitions would normally take place in physical environments prior to the pandemic, we are now witnessing more and more that these activities are taking place in virtual environments.

On October 9, Beba Foundation and Columbia University executed the "2020 Greater Good Challenge" competition in a virtual environment. This event gathered 60 international entries and over a 200 people audience from different parts of the world to cheer on finalist teams and make an audience pick.

In this event, thanks to the very strong cooperation between the Beba Foundation & Columbia University (host institution), ingenuity and hard work of the competing teams persevered the physical distancing. The event allowed the finalist teams composed of max 4 members - one of whom had to be related with Columbia University - to put their innovative business ideas to compete for the prizes.

All participating teams faced strategic and personal problems in organizing for this online event, which included the preparation and submission of pitches, finalist teams (10) making their 3-minute pitches to an international panel of judges, and a 2-minute Q&A with judges. The event was immediately followed by deliberation and award announcements in a total of 2 hours.

Since networking between the entrepreneurs is one of the most important byproducts of these events, follow–up activities were organized for this purpose.

Despite some obvious disadvantages (physical constraints), these virtual events have some important advantages. For example, they enable "global teams" to compete and they allow the participation of a diverse "international audience", which normally would not be possible.

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