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December 8, 2011 9:22 AM

Business Grads Take Top Prize in Innovation Challenge

Two Conestoga grads have been awarded top prize in a competition at the Australian school where they’re working on bachelor degrees in business.

Jeff Beitz of Kitchener and Matteo Elieff of Cambridge were two members of a team of four Canadian students who won first place and $15,000 cash on October 14 in the Griffith Innovation Challenge, a competition hosted by Griffith University in Australia. Students participating in the event must come up with an innovative product or service and then create a business plan for it.

Both of the young entrepreneurs are graduates of Conestoga’s Business Administration - Marketing program. The winning students’ commercial plan was to create company logos out of vertical gardens, a venture they named Verve, Inc. A vertical garden is a wall, free-standing or connected to a building that is covered in plants. Vertical gardens don’t just advertise: they also lower the temperature of the building and enhance its visual appeal.

The team was one of five finalist groups that had to provide a 20-minute presentation as well as a three-minute elevator pitch. The foursome won a combined three awards in the competition: best overall, best business and the people’s choice award for best pitch.

Their prizes also included Dell tablet PCs, 12-month memberships to the Gold Coast Innovation Centre with access to incubator space and mentoring services,as well as consultations with experts in their fields and a full-day management systems training course from the Australian Organisation for Quality (AOQ) Queensland.

“Winning tonight makes all the work we put into it worthwhile... it was the hardest but one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” Beitz told the Griffith News.

Elieff described the competition as “the experience of a lifetime.”

Verve, Inc. plans to turn their prize-winning business pitch into a reality through contacts they met during the competition.

According to Barbara Fennessy, chair of Conestoga’s School of Business and Hospitality, this is a proud achievement not only for the students, but for the School as well. For Fennessy, it’s “very exciting” when Conestoga business students go abroad and apply the entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation skills they are taught - skills she described as “among the most important skills students have for moving forward.”

Story by Elissa Den Hoed, a second-year student in Conestoga’s Journalism-Print program.

Winning Team of Innovation Challenge
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