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Competitions, Fellowships and Accelerators

Startup competitions, fellowships, and accelerators are a great way for student entrepreneurs to showcase their business innovations, develop their business models, and/or receive valuable funding and publicity. Below is a list of competitions open to students. We encourage all student entrepreneurs to visit the competition host websites and learn more information about each competition, including application, deadline, and event date information. Students may reach out to Elizabeth Gabel with any questions.

Name Description Open to Verticals
1776 Challenge Cup Worldwide tournament for the most promising and most impactful startups. For-profit startups Multiple Verticals
Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge Seeks innovative technologies and creative solutions which improve the way people access and manage healthcare. Growth stage company with demonstration beta product. HeathTech
ASME e-Fests E-Fests (Engineering Festivals) are three-day, two-night events that enable engineering students to expand their knowledge, test and showcase new skills and inspire innovation. Undergrad / Graduate Multiple Verticals
Baylor New Venture Competition A two-day business plan and speed pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. Everyone Multiple Verticals
BFI Fuller Challenge The Fuller Challenge invites innovative design solutions for addressing humanity's most pressing problems. Everyone Multiple Verticals
Business & Society International Aspen Case Competition
Students from business schools tackle a brand new case study, authored by the Yale School of Management, requiring innovative thinking at the intersection of corporate profitability and positive social & environmental impacts. MBA / Masters level students Business & Society, Management
Campus 1871 Campus 1871 is a weekend-long collaborative cross-campus initiative between 1871, Northwestern University and other Illinois-based universities. Cross-talented students Mobile Device Applications
Citi Tech for Integrity Challenge Open innovation challenge to source solutions that promote integrity, accountability and transparency in the public sector. Everyone Culture, Ethics & Citizen Engagement, Information, Security & Identity, Crisis Management & Aid, Cutting the Red Tape, Analytics, Reporting & Transparency, Financial Crimes & Illicit Activities, and Procurement
Cleantech University Prize An accelerator that launches, funds, and grows early-stage clean energy businesses in the Midwest through direct investment, venture development, and advocacy. Undergrad / Graduate / Ph.D. Clean Energy
Climatethon 2017 Climathon is a global 24-hour climate change hackathon. Everyone Cleantech
Climate Ventures 2.0 Program An innovation engine designed to provide private sector resources [committed by the
White House's Climate Data Initiative] to entrepreneurs with innovations that can enhance climate adaptation and resilience efforts.
Everyone Food, Agriculture, Water
Cupid's Cup A national business competition where applicants must demonstrate they have moved beyond the business plan strategy with proven customer traction. Everyone Business Products and Services
Data Science Bowl 2017 This year's challenge focuses on developing artificial intelligence algorithms that aid medical evaluations. Everyone Medical technology
Free Electrons Global Startup-Utility Accelerator A global energy startup accelerator program that connects promising startups with leading utility companies to co-create the future of energy. Later Stage Startups Energy
Global Venture Capital Investment Competition Global VCIC is the world’s largest venture capital competition where students get to be VCs for the day. Undergrad / Graduate / MBA Multiple Verticals
HATCH pitch HATCH pitch is the revolutionary network for startups using information technology to make life better. Everyone Multiple Verticals
HealthTECH Startup Competition Insight Product Development and MATTER are co-hosting the annual HealthTECH Summit. startups Health-tech
Impact Engine Impact Engine is a venture fund that invests financial and human capital in early-stage, for-profit technology businesses improving education, health, economic empowerment, and resource efficiency. Everyone Multiple Verticals
IoT Home Inspector Challenge
Federal Trade Commission hosted competition challenging participants to create a technical solution that helps consumers guard against security vulnerabilities in software found on IoT home devices. Everyone over 18 (Check eligibility requirements for details) Tools for home IoT devices
Les Foundation Business Plan Challenge This program offers IP education, professional networking and valuable mentorship opportunities aimed at fostering the development of tomorrow’s licensing leaders. Startup founders Intellectual Property
L'Oreal: USA For Women in Science Fellowship Five women postdoctoral scientists will be awarded annual grants for their contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and for their commitment to serving as role models for younger generations. Women postdoctoral candidates STEM
MassChallenge MassChallenge is a global non-profit startup accelerator and competition with a focus on high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs. Everyone Multiple Verticals
Matter Media Entrepreneurship Accelerator A rigorous, 20-week Design Thinking Program where students immerse themselves in a collaborative culture based on human-centered, prototype-driven design. Everyone Media ventures
MBA Impact Investigating Network & Training Experiential lab program designed to give students at business and graduate schools a hands-on education in impact investing. MBA students Multiple Verticals
Miller Lite Tap the Future Miller Lite Tap the Future looks for individuals with original business ideas who are ready to take their businesses to the next level. Founders / Owners over 21 Pre-existing small businesses
MIT Clean Energy Challenge The MIT Clean Energy Prize is a multi-stage, student-organized business plan competition for students with impactful clean energy start-up ideas. Everyone Clean Energy
National Hardware Cup A pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups. Early-stage startups Multiple Verticals
New Energy Challenge This challenge seeks game-changing solutions from early-stage startups active in energy transition. Early-stage startups Energy Solutions
Nokia Open Innovation Challenge 2017 Seeks startups and innovators who are working on the next big ideas in IoT. Early-stage startups with working prototype IoT
ProspectSV - Microgrid & DEF Innovation Call Seeks innovative energy solutions for microgrid infrastructure technologies, DERs and building level systems Everyone Microgrid infrastructure technologies, DERs and building level systems.
Semiconductor Research Corporation: 2017-2018 Fellowship and Scholarship Competition The Graduate Fellowship Program (GFP) and Master's Scholarship Program (MSP) focus on improving diversity for underrepresented minorities and women. These programs include company-named awards supported by IBM, Intel, and Texas Instruments. Ph.D. applicants, Ph.D. in progress candidates Micro-electronics, Semi-conductors
SunCode Hackathon A hackathon to build an intelligent energy startup, in less than 24 hours, providing solutions that will accelerate solar growth around the world. Everyone Solar Energy
VentureCat VentureCat is a day-long showcase and celebration of Northwestern’s most promising student-founded startups. The event culminates with a pitch competition. Undergrad / Graduate Business / Consumer Products and Services, Green Energy and Sustainability, Life Sciences and Medical Innovations, Social Enterprises and Nonprofit, and Transportation and Mobility
VentureWell BMEidea Competition The BMEidea competition offers university biomedical entrepreneurs the chance to win up to $10,000 and receive critical early-stage validation. Undergrad / Graduate Multiple Biomedical Verticals
VentureWell: DEBUT The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and VentureWell have come together to support and expand DEBUT, a competition that recognizes undergraduate excellence in biomedical design and innovation. Undergrad Bio-medicine and Bio-engineering
VentureWell e-Team Grant E-Team grant provides funding to student STEM innovators to help them move their inventions into the marketplace. Minimum of two active undergraduate or graduate students per team. Technology
VERGE 17 Accelerate Program VERGE Accelerate elevates early-stage entrepreneurs with solutions that address market opportunities across eight VERGE Tracks. Incorporated ventures with less than $5 million in current investment/revenue energy, transportation, buildings, infrastructure, urban resilience, circular economy
What Design Can Do Climate Action Challenge Global design competition that calls on the creative community to submit innovative ideas for helping people adapt to climate change. student, creative professional or start-up Climate change solutions
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