Big Idea Kearney business pitch competition back for 12th year; Top prize is $2,000

KEARNEY – Big Idea Kearney is back for its 12th year, with more than $3,000 in prizes up for grabs.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s annual business pitch competition is open to any UNK student or Kearney-area resident with a great business or product idea.

The idea doesn’t need to be a fully developed business model, but it does need to include:

  • a description of the product or service and its target audience;
  • your goals over the next six months to move the idea forward;
  • and examples of your innovation and creativity. Why are you the right person to make this happen in Kearney?

Entries will be accepted through Feb. 20 at There is no cost to participate, but contestants younger than 18 must have parental/guardian consent.

The top 10 finalists, as determined by a group of judges, will present their two-minute pitches March 5 during a live event at Legacy on the Bricks, 16 W. 21st St. in downtown Kearney. Social hour will start at 5:30 p.m., followed by the pitches at 6:30 p.m. Judges will determine the winners, who receive $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. The audience will also vote for a “people’s choice” winner, and the top five contestants will receive access and discounts to business coaching and planning services and other resources.

The live event is free and open to the public.

Big Idea Kearney is organized by UNK’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development and the Cultivate student organization. It’s designed to foster and showcase the innovative business and product ideas emerging from UNK students and the Kearney-area community.

“Big Idea Kearney is a platform to share entrepreneurial ideas and cultivate communities that celebrate current and aspiring entrepreneurs. This event allows individuals considering an idea to present it in front of their community and receive feedback, often as the first step toward a larger vision,” said Sara Bennett, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development.

The competition is sponsored by the UNK College of Business and Technology, Economic Development Council of Buffalo County, Invest Nebraska and Allo Fiber.

For more information, visit or contact Bennett at 308-865-8199 or