The State System Startup Challenge is an opportunity for students attending one of the state-owned universities to compete for prize money of up to $10,000 for their innovative ideas. Winners receive prize money to assist in making their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur come true.

All competitors are encouraged to use their imagination to create their best business ideas. Each university has faculty and staff who are dedicated to providing personal attention to students’ ideas to prepare them for launch in today’s marketplace. A team of judges reviews the submissions, and the finalists, as well as all of the competitors, are recognized at an awards ceremony. 


2024 First Place Winner

East Stroudsburg University student Diaa Meqdadi

The competition finals featured three students pitching their business plans for a chance to win funds to support the launch or growth of their business. The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) aired the live competition Wednesday evening.

“On behalf of all PASSHE universities, I congratulate Diaa for winning this year’s State System Startup Challenge and I thank every student who competed,” said State System Board of Governors Chair Cynthia Shapira. “Across the State System, smart and hardworking students are preparing to become the next generation of business leaders. Each one of them is a reminder of the great entrepreneurs we have in Pennsylvania and that the spirit of innovation is thriving on our campuses.”

Meqdadi, a senior computer science and computer security student from East Stroudsburg, Pa. presented a business plan for Mercial LLC. The company simplifies data management and digital marketing solutions using an innovative approach to develop drag-and-drop customizable database API software. Meqdadi hopes the company will revolutionize how businesses handle data. 

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