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As Obama Announces Higher Ed Proposals, Clarkson University Again Takes Stake in Student Businesses in Lieu of Tuition

As President Obama this week announced proposals to make higher education more affordable, including a focus on cutting-edge college practices for providing high value at low costs, Clarkson University is at the forefront for taking innovative approaches to helping students finance their education -- particularly those students who are already in business with a product or service, or getting ready to commercialize new technology.  

Today, Clarkson announced its annual competition in which up to five young entrepreneurs or innovators will have an opportunity to attend Clarkson through a combination of merit-based financial aid (after accounting for other aid for which the student may be eligible) and the acquisition by the University of an ownership interest in their business ventures in lieu of tuition payments.

Applications for Clarkson's 2014 Young Innovators and Entrepreneurs Program will be accepted beginning today at .

“Clarkson continues to be an innovative leader in entrepreneurship education," said incoming School of Business Dean Dayle M. Smith. "This will be the fourth year of this pioneering program in which students can earn their degree and run their company at the same time."

This week, Evan Jennings, a home-schooled high school student from Lowville N.Y., who won a 2013 Clarkson Young Entrepreneurs Award, and Honeoye Falls-Lima High School student Briar Bonadonna of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., who won a Clarkson Young Innovators Award, arrive on campus to begin their college careers.

Jennings won his award for his business the E3cubestore Rubik's Cube and Puzzle Shop, an e-commerce site that sells puzzle cubes designed for speed solving and competition.

Bonadonna was named the winner of her award for her business idea the PodBottle. She has a provisional patent on the innovation, which is a bottle that can store your keys, phone, etc.

Both students will receive specialized guidance and support from faculty and alumni mentors. They will also operate their businesses in Clarkson business incubator office space, while pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

For consideration, prospective or current Clarkson students who either are operating a business or have a commercializable innovation must apply by Jan. 15, 2014. Anyone not already enrolled at Clarkson must also apply for admission to the University. Up to 10 finalists will be selected to present their business or patentable idea to a panel of expert innovators and entrepreneurs at Clarkson.

Of those 10, up to five students will be chosen as Young Entrepreneurs or Young Innovators. These students will remain responsible for other costs incurred in connection with attendance, including expenses such as housing, meals, books and supplies.

In addition, these students’ businesses will receive the services of the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship and/or the Shipley Center for Innovation, advice from alumni mentors, and will be offered space at no charge in the Peyton Hall incubator. The remaining finalists will also receive services from the Reh and/or Shipley Centers and be offered space in the incubator.

Applicants must submit a completed business plan, a 90-second-or-less video that answers the question "Who am I, outside of my business?", and a brief description of their business. Entrants will be reviewed by the staff of the Reh and Shipley Centers and/or faculty with expertise related to the proposals as necessary.

Potential applicants should be prepared to discuss a vision for their business or innovation and its feasibility.  

The first recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Award, senior Matthew Turcotte, is both a successful student and a successful entrepreneur with a New York state-based Web and e-commerce company, which recently bought its first building in a nearby city. Turcotte was recognized in the spring with the U.S. Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Read more about his success at .

Sponsored by Clarkson's Reh Center for Entrepreneurship and Shipley Center for Innovation, the competition is aligned with the educational mission of Clarkson, which has a long-standing tradition of creating entrepreneurially minded business leaders who understand how to develop a successful business, harness innovative technologies and build opportunities for commercialization in the marketplace.

The innovative program was established in 2010 and featured in Money magazine as a strategy for paying for college.

Students interested in learning more about the Young Innovators and Entrepreneurs Program or applying can go to .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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