Pitch. Win. Grow .Celebrate.

Whether you’re a University of Iowa student or a community business owner in the state of Iowa, our competitions, awards, and funding provide you with opportunities to win cash prizes to boost your business. Keep an eye on our events page for deadlines corresponding with our competitions.

For University of Iowa Students

Ideastorm

for UI students

Pitch your business idea in two minutes or less for a chance to win money to help you bring your idea to life. IdeaStorm is a great way to test out an idea and potentially win money to help you start your business. In each of the four IdeaStorm categories, cash prizes will be awarded to the best ideas. This competition is a great starting point for someone who is new to pitching and entrepreneurship competitions.

Iowa Startup Games

for UI students

Team up, pitch ideas, and create a business in a weekend. Join students from all over campus to compete for over $2,500 in cash prizes. Did we mention there is free food all weekend and an option to earn one credit hour? If you are interested in entrepreneurship but are new to the startup process, this is a great place to start. No idea... no problem! You can join a team and help them bring their idea to life.

IIC

For UI Students

The Iowa Innovation Challenge is a university-wide competition with the goal to identify, advance, and support the most innovative projects on campus. $200k in prizes will be awarded during the 2020-2021 academic year to the most innovative ideas!

Phase 1: Elevator Pitch Competition

  • Fall 2020
  • $75,000 in prizes

Phase 2: Business Model Competition

  • Spring 2021
  • $150,000 in prizes
BMC

For College Students in the State of Iowa

Based on the methodology of the Business Model Canvas, this competition requires that companies tell their story, beginning from the idea stage, and including pivots along the way. Submissions will be submitted electronically and judged by Iowa JPEC leadership. One student business will be selected as a finalist to compete at the Business Model Competition Global on behalf of University of Iowa.

Pappajohn Student Venture Competition

for college students in the state of Iowa

This statewide competition invites students from colleges and universities across Iowa who have interest in starting their own venture to compete to win seed money. This competition is hosted in partnership among John Pappajohn, Equity Dynamics, and the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers located in Iowa.

Non Student Competitions and Awards

IIC

For UI Faculty, Staff, Incubator Startups, Program & Academic Alumni

The Iowa Innovation Challenge is a university-wide competition with the goal to identify, advance, and support the most innovative projects on campus. $200k in prizes will be awarded during the 2020-2021 academic year to the most innovative ideas!

Phase 1: Elevator Pitch Competition

  • Fall 2020
  • $75,000 in prizes

Phase 2: Business Model Competition

  • Spring 2021
  • $150,000 in prizes
Pappajohn Competition

open to the public

The Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition is intended to encourage and promote entrepreneurial activity and create greater awareness of the resources available to entrepreneurs in Iowa. Participants will be judged on the basis of their written submissions. Participants who advance to later rounds will also be judged on their presentations to a panel of judges. $100,000 in cash prizes will be awarded.

honors awards

FOR RECENT UI GRADUATES

Granted to an entrepreneur, who previously attended the University of Iowa, for their significant accomplishments in entrepreneurship and innovation. Individuals must be age 35 or younger at time of nomination. If there are multiple founders who meet the criteria within one business, they may all be recognized in a single nomination.

This award will be presented at the Iowa Innovation and Entrepreneurship Honors.

honors awards

FOR UI GRADUATES

Granted to an entrepreneur, who previously attended the University of Iowa, for their significant accomplishments in entrepreneurship and innovation. If there are multiple founders who meet the criteria within one business, they may all be recognized in a single nomination.

This award will be presented at the Iowa Innovation and Entrepreneurship Honors.

Additional Funding Opportunity

The Wellmark Venture Capital and Economic Development Program, offered by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has committed up to $5 million to four John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in Iowa to fund the start up of Iowa businesses. The $5 million is part of $25 million Wellmark pledged in 2002 to designate for Iowa-based economic development opportunities.

Venture projects will be identified, investigated, and recommended to Wellmark by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in four locations. The centers are available to both receive applications and to assist companies applying for funding. Entrepreneurs may submit applications to one of the four regional centers: University of Iowa, Iowa City; Iowa State University, Ames; University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls; and North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City.

For more information on the Wellmark Venture Capital Fund and how to apply, contact Paul Heath.

Find out more