📝 Editor’s note: Make sure to bookmark this page as we keep on adding and reviewing new business plan competitions to the list.
It has become a tradition of ours to share an annual overview of new ways you how you can raise funds to start and grow your venture.
Business plan competitions are great opportunities to get funding for your business ideas, feedback on your strategic plan, and exposure to the right audience.
This is also a smart way to expand your network, acquire new talent, partners and clients as well as gain feedback on your idea and your business strategy.
The following list includes competitions for budding and current entrepreneurs and those who just consider entrepreneurship as their first career choice.
The list offers a diverse variety of opportunities: business plan competitions, elevator pitches, business student conferences and case competitions that encourage innovation from all imaginable industries and backgrounds.
We have picked the gems that you can apply for in 2021 with your business idea and we have listed them in chronological order. Good luck!
Deadline: February 2, 2021 | Apply here
Prize: more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes
Eligibility: Any graduate-student startup, in a broad range of industries, from any university, in any degree program, can apply to the RBPC
The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition.
It provides an unparalleled experience for the participants by designing a diverse program over the course of three days, with significant time designated for feedback and interaction with the judging panel.
Deadline: February 3, 2021 | Apply here
Prize: $300,000 in cash
Eligibility: Participating teams require at least one Harvard Business School MBA student who plays a primary role in the business. The HBS student should be a part of the founding team and a significant equity holder if equity has been distributed. There is a $1,500,000 limit in seed capital raised and a $2,000,000 limit in revenue generated.
New Venture Competition provides a unique opportunity for students to put entrepreneurship principles into practice with an integrative learning experience.
Whether you are a winner of prizes, go on to implement your proposed new venture idea, or simply take advantage of the learning and apply it later in your career, the Competition will be an exciting, challenging, and rewarding experience.
Deadline: February 8, 2021 | Apply here
Prize: $100,000 in cash and prizes
Eligibility: The team must be organized and directed by a student from a college or university in the state of Utah; The founding student must be an active student during both semesters of the competition year; The student team members must be involved in all aspects of the UEC competition
The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge (UEC) is a statewide, student business model competition. Teams from universities across the state compete for the best business model and a chance to win $100,000 in cash and prizes.
The grand prize is $40,000. We invite the public and special guests to enjoy the final showcase and awards ceremony in the spring.
Deadline: February 14, 2021 | Apply here
Prize: more than $50,000 in total cash awards
Eligibility: The competition is for student-created, managed, and owned ventures. Teams of 2-5 students of which least one member of the team is required to be enrolled in a graduate program are encouraged to apply
Presented by the University of Oregon’s Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, the New Venture Championship (NVC) is the Pacific Northwest’s original six-round business competition, setting the standard followed by others.
Teams from elite universities come to Portland every year to pitch their venture plans and vie for more than $50,000 in total cash awards.
Deadline: February 26, 2021, 2021 | Apply here
Prize: This year’s competition provides more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, including a $25,000 cash prize as well as a Draper University Scholarship for the Grand Prize winner
Eligibility: The competition is for new, for-profit, independent ventures in the seed, start-up or early growth stages. Ventures with a social impact focus are eligible as long as there is a revenue-generating component to the venture. Ventures that qualify for 501(c) status are not eligible. Each team must have at least one eligible Team Member who is an undergraduate woman at any accredited not-for-profit college or university located in the United States.
The annual Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs is designed to hone the skills that undergraduate women need to advance from idea to venture creation.
Through multiple rounds of competition, students demonstrate an understanding of a problem, why the problem requires a new venture to address it, and how their idea presents the best solution to the problem.
Deadline: March 7, 2021 | Apply here
Prize: Grand Prize $10,000
Eligibility: Teams that include active Seattle University students enrolled either full-time or part-time in degree programs during one or more of the following academic periods: Summer 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, or Spring 2020 and alumni who have graduated from SU prior to the Summer 2019 academic period
The HSBPC is a public event and draws hundreds of investors, advisors, business leaders, community members, students, alumni, and faculty as audience members.
It is designed to help students and alumni in launching new business ventures, including for-profit businesses, not-for-profit businesses, corporate entrepreneurship, and social enterprise
Deadline: March 8, 2021 | Apply here
Prize: The first-place award is $4,500; second place $3,000, third place $1,500; and $500 each to the remaining two teams.
Eligibility: All current students may submit written business plans, and the best five plans will be invited to compete
The fifth annual Augustana College Business Plan Competition invites teams or individual students to present their ideas to a panel of business professionals.
Deadline: varies depending on the location | Apply here
Prize: Prizes are generally a combination of cash and business services and will vary by location. At the Global Finals, students compete for a prize package of US$25,000 in cash
Eligibility: You must be enrolled for the current academic year in a university/college as an undergraduate or graduate student at the time of application. The age cap for participation is 30 years of age
The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) is the premier global competition for students who own and operate a business while attending college or university.
Nominees compete against their peers from around the world in a series of local and/or national competitions in hopes to qualify for GSEA Finals. Founded in 1998 by Saint Louis University, GSEA is now an Entrepreneurs’ Organization program.
Applications open: February 2021
Prize: $300,000 in cash
Eligibility: Next founders is for Canadian founders of scalable, high-growth ventures
Next Founders accelerates the growth of Canada’s most promising entrepreneurs by providing mentorship, access to capital, and unparalleled entrepreneurial education taught by world-class faculty.
Next Founders is a flexible program, offering à-la-carte education from some of North America’s top minds that you can opt-into based on your individual needs.
Applications open: Fall 2021
U.Pitch brings together the best students from a cross-section of universities in this ultimate national elevator pitch competition. In just 90 seconds, students compete for national recognition and a prize pool of $10,000.
They also have the opportunity to showcase their idea or startup in front of hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and other students from the entrepreneurial community.
2021 Applications TBA
Prize: More than $300K in non-dilutive funding is awarded to accelerate the winning ventures
Eligibility: Each team must have at least one currently registered MIT student; if you are submitting as an individual, you must be a currently registered MIT student.
The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition has brought together students and researchers from across MIT and Greater Boston to launch their talent, ideas, and technology into leading companies.
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