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Description and Evaluation of Drake’s Next Top Entrepreneur Competition

Renae J. Chesnut, BS Pharm, MBA, EdD
Denise Soltis, BS Pharm, Robert Soltis, Ph.D.


To describe the implementation and results of Drake’s Next Top Entrepreneur Competition, The objective of the competition is to develop entrepreneurial leaders through the practice and polishing of creativity and presentation skills.


The Next Top Entrepreneur Competition is open to all students with a health-care related innovation. Students may register as teams or as individuals.

Following publicity through posters, email announcements, and creativity and communication guest speakers sponsored by the DELTA Rx Institute, information sessions are held to provide competition guidelines and recommendations.

The competition format consists of three rounds, with three judges at each round representing pharmacy, health care and business sectors.

  • Round 1: A 3-minute presentation of the participants’ health-care related entrepreneurial idea. Participants are evaluated on their idea’s originality, creativity, benefit and value to society, as well as the participant’s presentation skills. The top 10 teams were invited to advance.
  • Round 2: Following the introduction of a health care problem, participants are provided 60 minutes to develop a solution and 3 minutes to present their idea. Criteria used in judging includes Round 1 criteria plus the participants’ ability to work under pressure.
  • Round 3: The top 5 teams from Round 2 are invited to present a 15-minute mini business plan of one of their ideas from Rounds 1 or 2, or a new idea.

Monetary awards were provided following Rounds 1 and 2 with $100, $50, and $25 going to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams. Prizes of $1500, $750, and $500 were awarded following Round 3.


Over the past three years, the competition has attracted an average of 24 individuals (representing 11-12 teams). Winning ideas have included the following:

  • A program in which pharmacists who speak a prominent non-English language would be available via telephone and through Internet streaming services to deliver medication information to patients
  • Consultants that utilize proper evaluative technology and telemedicine equipment to perform many basic procedures in the nursing home instead of the hospital
  • A program in which patients may participate in voluntary screenings, drug utilization reviews, and other educational sessions
  • A program to establish an on-site clinic for genetic cancer testing, screening and early prevention plans, as well as assistance to physicians for making educated treatment decisions regarding their cancer patients
  • A health club that would provide monthly access to a pharmacist for the development of an ideal individualized health care plan by integrating medication management with diet, exercise and social enhancement
  • A program which seamlessly transitions patients from hospital to home, utilizing pharmacists to review hospital charts, screen medications for any issues, discharge counsel patients, follow-up with patients and send report to involved health care providers
  • A network which provides a free service to private practice physicians and other health care professionals to contact referrals for their patients and seek temporary replacements if they need coverage for their services
  • A clinical pharmacy consulting company that provides health care facilities 24/7 access to all of the services of a full-time clinical pharmacist, for a fraction of the cost of staffing one, with focus on rural hospitals and clinics that do not have the workload or budget to hire a full-time on-site clinical pharmacist
  • Other ideas generated from the competition included advanced patient care by collaborating with physicians, a Health “Barcade” with educational games and entertainment, a device and system that would notify patients when their prescriptions are ready in chain pharmacies, internet-based health databases, and text messages compliance services.

Participants and judges were surveyed following the completion to gather feedback on: publicity, information booklet and sessions, usefulness of the judges’ feedback, participation value, and overall impressions of the event

Student Feedback

“I think that the most positive experience of this competition was the ability to put all the creative thinking techniques I’ve learned at Drake to good use. After two years of participating in the event, I actually feel more prepared for my career than I was prior to the competition. I hope that in the future more students take advantage of this worthwhile event.”

“This was a great way to use the skills and knowledge we have gained throughout pharmacy school. I think this competition is very beneficial for younger students who are preparing for rotations. I wish I would have gotten involved sooner!”

Judge Feedback

“Being a judge for the Next Top Entrepreneur Competition was both enlightening and inspiring. These students are not only generating new ideas for their industry, they are truly embracing Interdisciplinary thinking and reaching across the boundary lines of the university. They are borrowing from management, leadership, fine arts, and behavioral sciences to create something truly new. While the competition was at the heart of this experience, these young people have a broader goal in mind: they truly want to change the world. Listening to them present their ideas, I was reminded how important it is for every person - student and instructor alike - to embrace the ideals necessary to make an impact. I would judge again in a heartbeat.


The Next Top Entrepreneur Competition allowed students to explore new ideas, develop presentation skills, and foster their development in entrepreneurial leadership skills.