Industry Market Trends

5 Contests to Showcase Your Competitive Edge

Mar 27, 2012

Whether you're an engineer, an entrepreneur or simply a creative thinker, consider putting your innovative ideas to the test in 2012 by entering one of these five competitions.

Entering a contest can lead to better branding for your business, give you exposure to new ideas and be an invaluable personal experience. If you're a creative type looking to put your ideas into action, check out these contests for professionals across industries.

The Export Experiment (The Manufacturing Mart)

This new product competition for American Component Manufacturers was inspired by President Obama's State of the Union Address, in which he urged for innovation in the nation's "Sputnik moment." The contest goal: build local, export global. Contestants must submit one product that can be exported, and must fulfill four key criteria: it must be manufacture-able in the U.S., designed for a niche market in a foreign country and solve a scalable problem, and the idea must be patented or patent-pending.

Three winners will be determined by a panel of manufacturing and capital experts. The contest runs until Aug. 31, 2012, and winners will score a commercialization grant valued at $5,000, a national press release and other business perks from The Manufacturing Mart, found here.

Innovative Minds International Architectural Design Competition

Most architects may be creative by nature, but Gurroo offers an award to the best in its international design challenge. The requirement is a design that promotes "the human condition by inspiring the minds of the intended users to an unprecedented level," something that can be done on a macro or micro scale. The competition supports open-source design programming organizations, with 10 percent of registration fees donated to such orgs.

Contestants can enter as a solo creative or in teams of up to four members, and earn $1,000 if they win. Registration is open until May 1, 2012, and more details can be found here.

Clean Tech Open 2012 Accelerator & Competition

Clean Tech Open's mission is to find and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. Applicants for this contest must apply within their region, and best match their submission idea to one of six categories: air, water and waste; energy efficiency; green building; renewable energy; smart power, green grid and energy storage; or transportation.

If incentive for eco-change isn't enough, a national prize package worth up to $250,000 might jolt potential competitors into action. The final application must be submitted by May 8, 2012. Details on the application process are here.

Small Business Customer Service Makeover Contest

No business is perfect, but small business professionals who can admit their flaws for the Better Business Bureau's Makeover Contest should grab a video camera and an application and explain why their current business's customer service procedure could use some help. The contest is open for businesses that have no more than five employees, and the businesses must be headquartered in eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont or Rhode Island.

Winners will receive up to $5,000 in support and material funds, and get advice on current procedures, to help their business grow. Biz makeover applicants can apply here until April 30, 2012.

Social Madness Contest

Are you social-media savvy? Officially announced this month, Business Courier's Social Madness contest is a media challenge that measures a business's social media outreach. Presented by Spark Business from Capital One, companies that enter will be ranked based on a scoring algorithm that measures social media influence. Votes will be tracked on, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter activity. The bracket-style competition will branch out from a local "tournament" in 43 U.S. cities to a national challenge.

Contestants will be qualified for one of three competitions - small (fewer than 100 employees), medium (100-500) or large (more than 500) - and compete against businesses of the same size. "Three overall champions get the right to designate a $7,500 donation to the charity of their choice," the Business Courier announced.