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.

HatchPad People's Choice Student Startup Awards: HatchPad is a social learning network and collaboration platform for student entrepreneurs 25 or younger. HatchPad is free and complements school programs by empowering members to connect with like-minded peers and receive feedback to help move their ventures forward. HatchPad People's Choice Student Startup Awards is for student-level entrepreneurs ages 13 to 25. Students who have legally formed entities, both for-profit and nonprofit, can enter. Ten grants will be issued ranging from $2,500 to $250. In addition to the 10 cash grants, winners of those grants will be awarded a free pass to HatchPad Live!, April 28-30, at Draper University in Silicon Valley (value $299) and the opportunity to pitch live and compete for a portion of our $50,000 pool of cash grants and awards. We will also conduct a video interview with each winner and post on our YouTube Channel, as well as on our website. All participants who make the finalist round will receive valuable feedback from our judges. Judges include investors from Golden Seeds, Rainmaker Capital, Prentice Capital, 1517 Fund, and Ace Capital, as well as individual angel investors and industry executives from Google and Edelman. We will be announcing more judges over the next few weeks. The first phase of the competition includes creating a venture page on HatchPad and uploading a 2-minute customer-facing video. Deadline for phase 1 is January 30, 2017. This part should take no more than 1 hour if a video has already been created. If you need an extension for the video, request one by emailing Heather Holst-Knudsen, CEO & Founder of HatchPad, a division of KidBacker Enterprises, LLC, and Chairman of the Board of KidBacker Foundation for Entrepreneurship, directly. The second phase of the competition has a deadline of February 28 and includes uploading an investor deck, executive summary, financials, and an investor video pitch. Please refer to this link to learn more.

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.

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 will be 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 will be 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

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.