The Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization has extended a Nov. 30 deadline until Dec. 31for entering a business competition worth $100,000 to the winner.Billed as Project Vesto and featuring what’s described as the state’s largest-ever cash grand prize, the competition already attracted entries from 25 businesses. One is from Gardnerville, according to a spokesman, but none of the firms’ identities has been made public at this point.“I’m sure there will be some others from the Carson (City) area,” said Daniel Herr, the Reno-based program manager with the institute. Herr added that public disclosure of participants won’t come until later in the process after competitors have been pared to 10.Participants have a chance to get $100,000 cash from private investors and venture capitalists after the three-tiered competition. Pitch dates for entrants will be Jan. 11 and 14, 2013. Venture capitalists and experienced investors will review one-page business model summations and judge five-minute presentations by the competitors.The 10 entrepreneurial finalists able to show real growth prospects then will set out to prove market demand for their products or services by gathering online voters to support them. Online voting will determine the winner.“We wanted to capture the dual requirement for a business idea to be attractive to both investors and potential customers,” said Walt Borland, president and CEO of the institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which seeks to drive commercialization via clean-energy innovation in Nevada. Project Vesto, also involving the Desert Research Institute and the University of Nevada campuses at Las Vegas and Reno, is a collaboration between the non-profit renewable energy institute and the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), which is the competition’s main sponsor.Contestants with winning business models must become Nevada-based entities and hold a state business license before receiving the entire award. The competition is open to all startup and early-stage ventures with less than $1 million in revenue and $100,000 in external equity investment.
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