The UPEI Panther Pitch: Students, submit your start-up idea!

PEI students compete for seed awards from the Harry W. MacLauchlan Entrepreneurship Program
| Students
image of poster promoting Panther Pitch

*Please note that since this story was originally published, the deadline date to submit start-up ideas has been extended from January 14 to January 21, 2021.

The University of Prince Edward Island has launched “UPEI Panther Pitch,” a program in which aspiring UPEI student entrepreneurs can submit their start-up idea for a chance to win a minimum of $5,000 in seed money, with up to a total of $45,000 being granted each year.

The UPEI Panther Pitch is supported by the Harry W. MacLauchlan Entrepreneurship Program (HWMEP), dedicated to the development of entrepreneurial-minded students who will create and lead new ventures that will grow and benefit Prince Edward Island communities. Recently, the MacLauchlan family met with UPEI to discuss ways the endowed awards in the HWMEP could better support students in developing their ventures. Colleagues in the faculties of Science, Business, and Sustainable Design Engineering created UPEI Panther Pitch, a competitive program that will see students present their ideas before a judging panel for a chance to receive significant start-up funding.

“In a very real sense, the MacLauchlan family is showing the way for young Islanders to help build the new opportunities on PEI with these awards,” said Dr. Andrew Trivett, associate professor in the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering. “H.W. MacLauchlan was an entrepreneur whose dedication to PEI was legendary. He showed optimism, determination, and a confidence that success was possible on PEI if you fully put your head and heart to the task. With that same spirit, we really look forward to seeing what our students will create.”

UPEI students, in teams or as individuals, are invited to submit their start-up idea by January 21, 2021.* Students whose pitches make it through a pre-screening process will participate in the UPEI Panther Pitch competition, which will take place from late January to early April 2021. Those who advance to the competition will earn significant exposure for their start-up idea, receive coaching from experienced mentors, and potentially be one of three winning teams to win a portion of $45,000 in seed grants to be used to support their start-up venture.

“We are very excited about this initiative. With the generous support of the MacLauchlan family, UPEI’s Panther Pitch will offer our students the opportunity to present their business cases and develop their abstract ideas into actual business ventures,” said Dr. Tarek Mady, interim Dean for the Faculty of Business. “Commensurate with the legacy of Harry W. MacLauchlan, these tangible enterprises will no doubt continue to support the economic development of PEI. Moreover, the three award winners will be wholly immersed in the complete entrepreneurship process and gain considerable experience through extensive and structured mentorship opportunities overseen by UPEI’s faculty and local business leaders. It is an excellent program for our students and University.”

The amount of the seed grant awarded to the winners will be contingent upon their development of an advanced business plan with forward-thinking strategies that increase the likelihood of success in their first year of business. Students can visit or email for more information.

UPEI Panther Pitch: What you need to know

  • UPEI students, in teams or as individuals, are invited to submit their start-up idea by January 21, 2021*, using the pre-screening application. Those whose ideas have been deemed acceptable by the Harry W. MacLauchlan Entrepreneurship Program (HWMEP) steering committee will be notified by January 28, 2021, that they have advanced to the competition.
  • Each team that advances to the UPEI Panther Pitch competition will be coached by experienced mentors as they develop their business plan and a five-minute video pitch, which must be submitted by 11:59 pm on March 18, 2021.
  • The judging panel will review the submissions and will notify participants by March 22, 2021 as to which teams will advance to the semi-final.
  • The live Q&A semi-final will take place on March 24, 2021. Each team that has advanced to the semi-final will present their five-minute pitch live and face questions from a judging panel and the broader UPEI community.
  • The judging panel will select the three winning teams by April 5, 2021.
  • The three winning teams will receive non-repayable entrepreneurial start-up grants from HWMEP to develop their venture.
  • The total dollar amount of the start-up grant to each of the three winning teams will be decided by the judging panel based upon their business plan, with the annual sum of awards to all teams being no greater than $45,000. The minimum award to any team will be $5,000.
  • Each student on the three winning teams will also receive a $500 individual award, separate from the start-up grant.
  • Read the complete competition rules

About Harry W. MacLauchlan

Harry W. MacLauchlan (1926–2002) combined his entrepreneurial initiative, work ethic, business judgment, and people skills, with a deep commitment to his family, community, and province. In his honour, the MacLauchlan family created an endowed fund to support awards for entrepreneurial students, allowing them to build innovative ventures that will grow and benefit Prince Edward Island communities.

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