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Competition challenges college students to turn trash into cash

ASHEVILLE—Regional college students can turn a piece of trash into cash in a new competition designed to tap their imagination, innovation and collaboration.

The Creative Juice Collegiate Competition challenges student teams to create value out of a throwaway item and communicate a message of environmental responsibility. Teams will chronicle their experiences on video and upload it to YouTube for judging by some of the region’s top technology entrepreneurs and educators.

Teams from colleges across Western North Carolina are competing for thousands of dollars in scholarships, prizes and professional development opportunities, as well as a chance at a national grand prize – a day at Google Headquarters in California.

The top team in Western North Carolina will receive $5,000 in scholarships, a Biltmore Estate outdoor experience, a paid internship project with the Asheville Sustainability Center, an evening at the Grove Park Inn, tickets to a Carolina Panthers home game, and more.

In addition, the top team from Appalachian State University will receive a trip to the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization annual conference in Chicago Nov. 6-8 (

The concept for the Creative Juice competition was developed by Pam Lewis of AdvantageWest Economic Development Group along with Troy Tolle of DigitalChalk online learning system; Bryan Toney, director of Appalachian’s Center for Entrepreneurship; and Dr. Phil Sanger, director of the Center for Rapid Product Realization at Western Carolina University.

The competition was created to encourage entrepreneurship and highlight the vital role it plays in the economic growth of rural regions across the U.S. and around the globe.

“As part of AdvantageWest’s economic development strategy, we must continuously explore new and innovative paths to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship,” said CEO Dale Carroll. “We believe one of the best ways to accomplish this is by encouraging the use of technology and stimulating creativity in the young people of our region. They represent our future workforce and business owners.”

The competition begins Sept. 11 when the throwaway item is revealed during a live webcast from the Carolina Connect conference at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The conference provides professional development and networking to entrepreneurs and investors from across the Southeast.

Teams have 10 days to complete their video for judging. They will be evaluated in five areas: originality and creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation, environmental responsibility, critical thinking skills, and team building and leadership.

Visit to learn more about the competition and to register your team.

Judges for the regional competition are Erskine Bowles, UNC System president; Rhett Weiss, Google Inc.; Ryan Allis, iContact; Kurt Mann, AmericanGreen TV; June Atkinson, N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction; and a representative of the N.C. Community College System.

Western North Carolina’s regional champion will face the winning regional teams from South Carolina, Oklahoma, Iowa and Oregon to compete for the Creative Juice grand prize trip to Google in January.

“Created by entrepreneurial students at Stanford University and today recognized as one of the world’s leading companies, Google is an ideal fit as the grand prize sponsor of the competition,” said Carroll.

“The company recently opened a major data center in the AdvantageWest region and we are proud to have them as a corporate neighbor.”

Creative Juice is also sponsored by DigitalChalk, AmericanGreen TV and Jute Networks.