Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event that invites participants of any age to pitch a new business idea, is coming back to Columbia from Friday, Oct. 3 to Sunday, Oct. 5. This is the event’s fourth year in Columbia.

With the help of mentors, participants develop their business idea all weekend, and then present them in front of a group of judges on Sunday.

Startup Weekends are hosted all around the world, from Italy to Iraq.

Registration is still open through this Friday. There’s a fee of $49 for students and $99 for all others to participate. Those interested can sign up at columbiastartupweekend.com. Local companies are sponsoring food and drinks this year, and an after-party at Logboat Brewing Company on Thursday, Oct. 16, will cost $10 to attend.

There will also be a more diverse group of judges, coming from as far away as San Francisco and New York.

A goal for this year is to bridge the gap between the medical and technological community in Columbia, said marketing and promotions coordinator Natalie Stezovsky, since Columbia has a large medical community.

Last week, the Startup Weekend group hosted Health IT Startups 101, which was a panel discussion, to introduce the goal.

Columbia’s Startup Weekend is one of the most successful ones in the country, according to Stezovsky.

“We’re putting Columbia’s name on the map,” Stezovsky says. “There are global representatives coming to the event.”

Notable companies spurred from Columbia’s Startup Weekend include Zapier, SafeTrek and TimeKitJS.

Zapier allows you to connect apps, and easily move data between them. After winning Startup Weekend, the company got significant funding and the creators moved to California. The creators will be mentors at Startup Weekend this year.

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