In light of the “Year of Innovation,” a west coast law firm is introducing a new entrepreneurial competition to the University of Wisconsin campus this year.

Perkins Coie, a Seattle-based law firm, announced its Innovative Minds competition, which will ultimately award one UW student group with $10,000 for the most “market-ready innovation”, a UW statement said.

Brian Mattmiller, assistant dean of external relations in the College of Engineering, said UW has developed a good landscape for entrepreneurial competition over the past 20 years.

According to Mattmiller, this partnership with Perkins Coie “shows how serious the university is to promoting and following up innovation.”

As the 2011-12 school year has been dubbed the “year of Innovation,” the university hopes such a competition will provide students with hands-on experience in the field of entrepreneurship, the statement said.

Mattmiller, who is honored the university was chosen for the competition, said UW offers “platforms to generate ideas,” adding that this competition is one way ambitious students will be able to focus on the actual application of their ideas.

According to Perkins Coie spokesperson John Buchanan, the Innovative Minds competition began from the understanding that “the geneses of the country’s companies are based on innovation.” 

According to the statement, prize-contending students include finalists from such university-based competitions, as the Tong Prototype Prize, Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge, Scoofs Prize for Creativity, Qualcomm Wireless Prize and Burrill Business Plan.

Approximately 20 students overall from these competitions will be chosen to enter their ideas to the Innovative Minds competition, the statement said.

Students eligible for the competition will present their original market-ready idea as well as a financial plan for the $10,000 grant, the statement said, adding that students must also submit a two-page report documenting their preparation.

According to Buchanan, once all the entries are accounted for, four judges will commence the submissions review process. Two attorneys from Perkins Coie as well as two university representatives comprise the group of judges that will ultimately pick the winner.

The winner will be presented with their prize in May 2013, the statement said.

This is the first year the competition has been held at UW, and only the second year it has been offered nationally.

Only three other universities in the country have been considered a home to this competition: Arizona State University, Washington University and University of California-Los Angeles, the statement said.

Buchanan added that although the company has plans of “rolling out” the competition in all of the cities it is located in, their decision to come to Madison was a “natural” one, due to the success of the local Perkins Coie branch.

Students interested in the competition can contact Mattmiller at [email protected] or (608) 890-3004 for more information.