Official Contest Rules

Official Contest Rules

Innovation Challenge

  • The contest features two categories: Established Business and Pre-Venture.
  • To submit an entry, contestants must submit all requested information either by mail or email. Follow all instructions on the Think Dutchess website with respect to the form and entry material.
  • By submitting its entry, all contestants acknowledges that he or she has read and that he or she has complied with and agree to be bound by the Contest rules.
  • All entries will be deemed final and cannot be changed once submitted.
  • All Finalists (and each team member) will be required to agree in writing to the terms and conditions of an Affidavit and Release before being awarded prizes.


Established Business Category

  • The Established Business category, is open to individuals (18 years of age or older) who currently own and manage a small business in Dutchess County (small business is defined as raising less than $500K in equity and produced less than $1 million in annual revenue). The business must be less than 36 months old as of April 3, 2017 and must have a current business license. As part of the entry process, contestants must submit proof of the age of the business (Examples: Sole proprietors: a bank statement documenting the opening of a business bank account; Corporations: articles of incorporation; partnerships: partnership agreement.) Generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements or other arrangements for distribution in a different geographical area, relocations, medical and legal practices, and multilevel marketing ventures. The Competition’s Selection Committee may exclude other ventures in its sole discretion. The Winner must also agree that any cash prize received from the Contest must be treated as revenue for the business and not for personal use.


Pre-Venture Category

  • The Pre-Venture category, is open to contestants who live in the mid -Hudson Valley and have an idea for a business but are not yet open for business. This category has the same entry requirements as the Established Business category, except for the business license and proof of business age requirements. Pre-Venture contestants must submit proof of mid-Hudson Valley residency (e.g., copy of driver’s license, utility bill, etc.). Hudson Valley is defined as: Dutchess County, Orange County, Putnam County, Sullivan County, and Ulster County.


Rules of Participation

  • By submitting an entry each contestant (and each team’s members) acknowledges and agrees to the rules, terms and conditions of the Competition, including without limitation, that: All decisions regarding the Business Plan Competition, including the selection of the Competition winner, are in the sole discretion and judgment of the Competition Selection Committee whose decisions in each case are final and unappealable; each Contestant shall release and hold harmless the Innovation Challenge by Think Dutchess, Think Dutchess Alliance for Business, its Sponsors, Selection Committee, Participants, and all others associated with or assisting with the Innovation Challenge Competition from any and all matters regarding the Innovation Challenge by Think Dutchess Plan Competition. Applicants will be judged based on the quality of the entry form, business plan summary and the business’s market viability.
  • Employees and Board members of Think Dutchess (and their competition partners), Contest sponsors and their family or members of the same household are not eligible to compete in The Innovation Challenge Competition.
  • Entries must be of adequate substance and format and must be received by 5PM on the deadline date (or postmarked by that date if submitted by U.S. Mail).
  • Additionally, up to five Finalists in each category will be required to present their business plans to a selection committee appointed by Think Dutchess. Finalists will be contacted to arrange a time and place for presentations.
  • The odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries received that adequately meet the stated criteria for a valid submission.
  • Before the winner and finalists of The Innovation Challenge Competition receive any prizes and any related awards, assistance or incentives, they (including each team member) must agree to the terms and conditions for each such prize and award as specified by The Innovation Challenge Competition and organizations providing prizes and awards in the Affidavit and Release.
  • All entries must be the original work of the entering individual or team. No software-generated business plans will be accepted.
  • The Innovation Challenge Competition reserves the right to not release the names of or other information concerning the Selection Committee or other Competition judges or officials. Lobbying of any Selection Committee member or other Competition judge or official is strictly prohibited.
  • Contestants will be notified as to whether they are selected as a finalist. Prizes are not transferable. Winners are responsible for all applicable taxes. Winners of cash prizes will be required to submit an invoice to receive the funds. Think Dutchess will endeavor to distribute funds and connect winners with prize donors in a timely manner following the Contest, but reasonable delays may occur.
  • For a list of winners, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Think Dutchess, 3 Neptune Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
  • Right to decline to name a winner: If there are no acceptable entries. The Innovation Challenge by Think Dutchess Competition in its sole discretion reserves the right to declare no winner and to not award the prize package to any Contestant.


A premier business-led organization, Think Dutchess Alliance for Business brings together 10 agencies under one unified vision for one-stop shop site selection, financing, incentives, permitting and advocacy, strategic planning and counseling, marketing and networking.