Pitch. Win. Grow.

Whether you’re a University of Iowa student or a community business owner in the state of Iowa, our competitions 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


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 for a business in front of a friendly group and potentially win money to help you start your business. At each of the four IdeaStorms, $1,500 in cash prizes are awarded. 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.


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. A total of $50,000 in cash prizes is awarded at this competition. College students across the state of Iowa are invited to participate in this competition.

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.

Student Entrepreneur of the Year

For UI Students

This prestigious award honors two deserving student startups affiliated with the University of Iowa each spring. The recipients of this award exhibits passion, devotion, and innovation in planning and deploying their startup and have either made significant progress over the years, or made an impact as determined by jobs created, revenue generated, or other metrics.

Non Student Competitions

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 in 2018.

Faculty Staff Startup of the Year

for UI Faculty/Staff

This prestigious award honors one deserving startup owned by a faculty or staff member affiliated with the University of Iowa each spring. For the purpose of this award, a startup is defined as a breakout company that has been formed within the last 3 years or less and was founded on University of Iowa intellectual property. This award process is conducted in partnership with the Office of Research and Economic Development and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

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