Business Competitions

Numerous business competitions are available year-round for student entrepreneurs interested in pitching their idea for a chance to win some seed capital. Many business competitions require participation by a specific subset of students. Here we list some business competitions that are open to all students.

Rice Business Plan Competition: The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition, with forty-two of the best student-led startups from top university programs around the world. Teams are selected from more than 500 applicants to compete in April at Rice University in Houston, for $1.5 million in startup funding (cash and investments). Their ventures are scrutinized and coached over three days by 300 expert judges who are investors, serial entrepreneurs, and seasoned corporate leaders. Since 2001, past RBPC competitors have gone on to raise more than $1.2 billion in funding, and had successful exits valued at more than $800 million. If you are a graduate-student team that might be interested, apply by submitting a three- to five- page executive summary and an optional one-minute video elevator pitch, along with contact information and eligibility information. Teams can visit for more information about the opportunity to compete, eligibility requirements and submission guidelines. If you have any questions, reach out by email at The next competition deadline for submission of proposals is February 9, 2018. Submit your application here.

Nano Startup Challenge in Cancer: The NSCC affords both students and faculty a rare opportunity to become entrepreneurs and launch startups from de-risked, commercially viable NIH/NCI inventions. Teams may also submit their own “third-party” inventions.

Space Race Startup Challenge: The Space Race Startup Challenge with NASA and the El Paso-based Medical Center of the Americas Foundation.

TigerLaunch: TigerLaunch is Princeton University’s collegiate entrepreneurship competition.

Thrive Accelerator: The Thrive Accelerator encourages applications from start-up companies with a technology focus in the Food and AgTech sectors.

Rudd Family Foundation Big Ideas Contest @ UC Berkeley: Big Ideas at Berkeley provides funding, support, and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams of students who have 'big ideas.'

Startup Challenge: The Startup Challenge new venture competition held in Monterey, CA, is an opportunity for prospective entrepreneurs, startups, and emerging companies to showcase their ideas and business concepts. Applications are typically due in March.

The Hult Prize: Sponsored by the Clinton Global initiative, the Hult Prize is looking for social business ideas to win $1 million in seed money.

MIT Clean Energy Prize: The MIT Clean Energy Prize, awarded by Eversource Energy, is a multi-stage, student-organized business plan competition in which university teams from across the United States enter their business ideas in one of three categories: Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Infrastructure & Resources. In the Grand Finals, six teams compete for the $200,000 Eversource MIT Clean Energy Grand Prize, $75,000 DOE EERE Clean Energy Prize, and three $35,000 Track Prizes.