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Alliance hosts inaugural Innovation Challenge
Local entrepreneurs can vie for a chance at winning $2,500 in cash and $2,500 in business services at the inaugural Stanislaus County Business Alliance Innovation Challenge. - photo by Photo Contributed

Locals with an inventive knack will have the opportunity to express their creativity for a shot at $2,500 by entering the Stanislaus County Business Alliance’s inaugural Innovation Challenge.

The new Innovation Challenge was inspired by the San Joaquin Entrepreneur’s Challenge that functions along the same premise of supporting those with business ideas, which Alliance CEO David White witnessed for the first time this year.

“David White asked if we could do something similar just in the Stanislaus County and use that as a feeder to bring more innovative ideas into the San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge,” explained Curtis Clark, chief innovation officer and director of the Alliance Small Business Development Center. “It didn’t take long to get people on board since many people are also involved in the Entrepreneurial Challenge and this is based off that idea and that experience.”

With the aim of determining if local entrepreneurs' ideas have commercial potential, the Innovation Challenge will hold four preliminary competitions in various communities within Stanislaus County. The winners of the four local competitions will then compete in a final round for a chance to take home a $2,500 cash prize furnished by Wells Fargo Bank, as well as $2,500 worth of professional services to help develop their concept and break into the market.

“We wanted to keep it as open and simple as possible and not limit people’s creativity so there is no particular conditions on what individuals submit whether that is a product, a service, an idea, or an early business stage,” said Clark.

Those interested in applying for the Innovation Challenge can do so by downloading and completing an application from Those whose criteria meet the standards can pitch their idea to a panel of three experienced entrepreneurs at the preliminary events.

The first Innovation Challenge is set for Sept. 17 at the Kirk Lindsay Center located at 1020 10th St., Suite 102 in Modesto. Competitions are also slated for Oakdale, Patterson, and Turlock with the final round competition set for Modesto on Dec. 10. The overall winner will also be entered into the Regional San Joaquin Entrepreneur’s Challenge, which will be held in Stockton in February 2015.