JANUARY 25, 2024 — The UTSA Draper Data Science Business Plan Competition is growing. In response to this growing demand, this spring’s second annual competition will include participants from across North America.
The final round of the competition will take place on Friday, April 12, at the San Pedro I Weston Conference Center in San Antonio.
After the success of UTSA’s first Draper Competition in 2023, universities outside the United States, including Mexico’s flagship university Tecnológico de Monterrey, contacted the UTSA School of Data Science (SDS) to express an interest in sending competitors to San Antonio, according to Amanda Mukengeshayi Brown, SDS manager of strategic initiatives.
The expansion of the competition comes on the heels of UTSA’s historic dual degree program with Tec de Monterrey and serves as a further example of UTSA’s commitment to making higher education more accessible and preparing students to become leaders on a global level.
“In that spirit, we are targeting all of North America this year, with the hope that we can further scale up international participation over time,” Brown added.
The UTSA Draper Competition was established with a $1 million donation from Timothy Draper, a third-generation venture capitalist and founder of Draper University, and his wife, Melissa Parker Draper. UTSA’s competition is one of a few in the U.S. with a sole focus on entrepreneurship in data science.
The 2023 competition culminated in four winning teams — three of which included UTSA students. All four received prizes totaling $75,000 for their innovative use of data science in business.
Purposeful adjustments are being made to this year’s Draper Data Science Business Plan Competition to align with UTSA’s commitment to experiential learning. These modifications aim to provide additional support while fostering a dynamic learning environment that is strategically equipping students for their careers.
In addition to expanding the applicant pool, Brown says the competition will grow from its 2023 format by expanding the final round into a half-day event, instead of two hours. This change offers finalists two important opportunities. The first is increased rehearsal time and a chance to get a feel for the stage before making their pitch to the panel. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, are the networking opportunities the new set-up provides.
“We are not simply awarding prizes,” Brown said. “We believe in the importance of building genuine connections and relationships that can help further the data-driven business ideas that competitors are working on.”
In another twist for 2024, standout competitors who are not selected for the final round may still have a chance to share their ideas and practice their pitches in an opening poster session. This select group of participants will be chosen by the competition steering committee.
“We aim to provide a platform for students to showcase their calculated data science business solutions and the opportunity to practice their communication skills, even if they are not finalists competing on the stage for the big prize,” Brown said.
The application deadline is Friday, January 26. All applicants will undergo judging by a preliminary committee, and the selected finalists will be publicly announced on March 4. The selected teams will proceed to the competition’s final round, which is scheduled on Friday, April 12, 2024.
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