Thirteen teams will be vying for $4 million in prize money in the National Business Model Competition (NBMC).

They will also get a chance to represent Jamaica in the International Business Model Competition, to be held at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington, DC, on April 29-30.

The NBMC will be held over two days, March 31 and April 1, at The Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

The competing teams announced this week are drawn from four Jamaican institutions: four each from Northern Caribbean University, University of Technology Jamaica and University of the West Indies; and one from Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Audrey Richards, project consultant for the venture capital programme at Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), touted the competition as a means of scoping out business talent.

“Our vision is that we have an ever-increasing pool of entrepreneurs coming out of this competition. We want to see the kind of entrepreneurship that is really going to create the economy that we are looking for, that is to say the kind of jobs and economic development that we desire. We know that, based on what we have seen coming out of this competition, the universities are at the cutting-edge,” Richards said.

This is the third year for the NMBC. Financial support is being tapped from the Multilateral Investment Fund, Pan Jamaican Investment Trust, National Commercial Bank, GK Capital Management, Scotiabank Jamaica and Jamaica National Building Society.

Richards says the DBJ would welcome, even at this stage, more local support.

“The private, sector partnership for us is very important as this will put us further along the way in bringing together the rich talent that we see coming out of the universities and the entities that will act as financiers, mentors and even board members for the budding entrepreneurs,” Richards said.

The winner of the first NMBC in 2104, Herboo Enterprise Limited from the Northern Caribbean University, went on to the international competition and placed 8th out of 42 teams. It also won the best international team award.

The 2015 winner, JarGro Enterprise, which also came from NCU, reached the semi-finals of the international competition.