Every year since 1989, Montana college and university students have brought their business plans to Missoula for the John Ruffatto Statewide Business Plan Competition. This month, a group of judges composed of entrepreneurs, bankers and business professors crowned a new winner.

According to a UM press release, this years winners were, "UM business school undergraduate students Matthew Gangloff and Andrew Burrington and MBA student Kyle Marshall won the top award of $10,000 for their business plan, New Leaf Environmental."

Competition Director Don Gaumer describes the plan as "an environmental monitoring system made up with off-the-shelf components connected with software." The monitors are designed to be set up in an area, like the Bakken in Eastern Montana, to sniff for escaping vapors caused by fracking.

New Leaf Environmental may or may not become a business success, but there is certainly a precedent of successful ideas being produced by the Ruffatto competition. Over time, at least 65 of the business plan entries have gone on to become actual businesses.

"Two examples I'm sure most Missoulians would be familiar with is, three years ago, the plan winner was Tom Snyder, his plan changed names, but you know it now as Five on Black, the restaurant on North Higgins," said Gaumer, who has been judging or directing the competition since 1989. "Two years ago, the second place team was a plan called "Fresh Finds" but you know it today as Market on Front."

This year, the prize purse was stuffed with over 30,000 dollars, most of that money came from businesses and entrepreneurs from across Montana.