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The Proving Ground

Hello and welcome to the Proving Ground, the University of South Carolina's signature entrepreneurial competition to identify and accelerate innovative business concepts with commercial potential. The Proving Ground is a three-month, three-round, points-based competition culminating with a live pitch event on March 29, 2018.

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Complete information about The Proving Ground can be found at the competition web site, http://www.uscprovingground.com.

Each team will be required to submit a business plan for their concept, and the team left standing in each category wins. All submissions must survive the three round elimination process to make it to the prize money awarded at the conclusion of the live pitch event.


2017 - 2018 Proving Ground Categories

The concepts submitted may be for any business and any industry, ideally addressing an unmet need or solving an existing problem. Do you have an idea for a new app? Do you have an innovative restaurant or retail concept? Do you have a new way to deliver a recognized service? Do you have a product or service to create a market that does not exist today? Any and all of these ideas would be applicable to the Maxient Innovation category or the Avenir Discovery category.

Avenir Discovery

This category is open to University of South Carolina undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni from the past five years (since May 2012).

Maxient Innovation

This category is only open to University of South Carolina undergraduates.

SCRA Fan Favorite

The two highest scoring teams that do not make it into the finals will go head-to-head for this category. The winner will be decided live by the audience on March 29, 2018!


Important Dates:

October 30, 2017 The Proving Ground officially launches
February 28, 2018 Deadline for submission
March 1, 2018 - March 4, 2018 First round of judging
March 5, 2018 - March 14, 2018 Second round of judging
March 20, 2018 Information session for finalists and practice presentations
TBD Dress rehearsal
March 29, 2018 Finalists pitch competition and awards ceremony
W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall
Darla Moore School of Business

The deadline for submitting your completed business plan is February 28th, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. Plans uploaded before that date may be amended up until that time.  The plan is uploaded in the Competition Questions section of this web site.

If you have questions, please contact Dean Kress, Competition Administrator at kress@sc.edu.


Disclaimer: All decisions and/or changes regarding the competition rules, procedures, and processes are at the sole discretion of the managing committee of the entrepreneurship competition. Changes and/or interpretations of these rules may be made by the committee at any time, even though they may be (or may appear to be) in conflict with some previously published information. The decision to award (or not to award) winners in all categories is at the sole discretion of the judges of the competition.