About

The Iowa Innovation Challenge will bring $225,000 in total funding during the 2020-2021 academic year across the University of Iowa's campus. The Challenge is a university-wide competition with the goal to identify, advance and support the most innovative and entrepreneurial projects on campus.

There are two phases to the Challenge:

The first phase, an Elevator Pitch Competition, will be held in November 2020 and will award $75,000 in prizes. The second phase, a Business Model Competition, will be held in spring 2021 and will award $150,000 in additional prizes.

Pitch workshops will be held prior to both competitions to help individuals/teams prepare. The Elevator Pitch Competition workshop will be on Friday, October 30 at 11:30am on ZOOM. RSVP here.

This competition is open to all University of Iowa:

  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Graduate students
  • Undergraduate students
  • Incubator startups
  • UI Program or Academic Alumni (for the Business Model Competition portion of the Challenge - Spring 2021)
     

    *We define "Incubator startup" as either participating in the UI's Research Park, or active alumni members receiving support from the UI Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory.

    * We define "UI Program or Academic Alumni" as either having previously been enrolled as a student at UI, or having participated in an Iowa JPEC outreach program. These outreach programs include Venture School alumni, Business Consulting Clients, Small Business Development Center Clients, and businesses who employed a student intern through our Iowa Innovation Associates program. UI Program or Academic Alumni will be eligible to participate in the second phase of the Challenge, the Business Model Competition, spring 2021.

    * Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students, and Incubator Startups: Winners of over $5,000 from last year's 2019-2020 Iowa Innovation Challenge are ineligible to apply for the same or similar project.

    * Undergraduate Students: Winners of over $2,500 from last year's 2019-2020 Iowa Innovation Challenge are ineligible to apply for the same or similar project.

Phase 1: Elevator Pitch Competition

How it works

The first phase of the Iowa Innovation Challenge is an elevator pitch competition. An elevator pitch is a quick synopsis of your business, the problem that it solves and the value it provides.

Elevator Pitch Competition applications are due Monday, November 9.

Participants will pitch over ZOOM to a panel of judges.

Faculty, staff, graduate students and incubator startups will pitch on Monday, November 16.

Undergraduate students will pitch on Tuesday, November 17 and Wednesday, November 18.

The pitch can be up to 3 minutes in length and will be followed by up to 5 minutes of questions by the judges.  Participants can optionally share one PowerPoint slide as part of their pitch.

Winners and award amounts will be announced at the Iowa Innovation Challenge Awards Webinar on Wednesday, November 18 at 5:00 via ZOOM.  Participants of this event will also hear from 2020 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year, Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Meetup.

To begin our application, please select the category below you best fit based on your relationship to the University of Iowa.

Faculty, staff, graduate students, incubator startups

  • Application deadline Monday, November 9
  • $50,000 in prizes available
  • Application requires you to submit company name and short description of the business.
  • Applications will be reviewed and up to 25 finalists will be selected to advance and pitch to judges on Monday, November 16.
  • Coaching and guidance on how to prepare for the pitch will be offered through online workshops
  • Please note: Awarding of $2,000 or more will only be paid after next step meeting and milestones are met.

Apply Now

Undergraduate students

 

  • Application deadline Monday, November 9
  • $25,000 in prizes available
  • Application requires you to submit company name and short description of the business.
  • Applications will be reviewed and up to 50 finalists will be selected to advance and pitch to judges on Tuesday, November 17 or Wednesday, November 18
  • Coaching and guidance on how to prepare for the pitch will be offered through online workshops.
  • Please note: Awarding of $1,000 or more will only be paid after next step meeting and milestones are met.

Apply Now

 
If you have any questions, please contact Jan Finlayson at jan-finlayson@uiowa.edu.
 
*UI Program or Academic Alumni are not eligible for the Elevator Pitch phase of the Iowa Innovation Challenge but we encourage you to apply for the second phase, the Business Model Canvas Competition, in the spring.

Phase 2: Business model canvas competition

How it works

The second phase of the Iowa Innovation Challenge is the Business Model Canvas (BMC) Competition.  This competition is based on the methodology of the Business Model Canvas and requires that companies tell their story beginning from the idea stage including pivots along the way.  It describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value.

This competition will be open to faculty, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students and incubator startups. In addition, the Alumni Category of the competition will be open to UI Program or Academic Alumni.

Information and application deadlines for the Iowa Innovation Challenge - Business Model Canvas Competition will be announced Spring 2021.

Thank you to our Sponsor

The Starman Family

Next Steps

The deadline to apply for the fall Iowa Innovation Challenge Elevator Pitch Competition is Monday, November 9.

Contact us  Apply Now