About

The Innovation Challenge will bring $250,000 in total funding during the 2021-22 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 15 and 16, 2021. Applications are due October 28, 2021. The second phase, a Business Model Competition, will be held April 11 - 12, 2022. Coaching will be available for both competitions to help individuals/teams prepare. Please contact Jan Finlayson for more information.

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 ONLY of the Challenge - Spring 2022)
     

    *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 2022.

    * Faculty, Staff, Graduate Students, and Incubator Startups: Winners of over $5,000 from last year's 2020-2021 Innovation Challenge are ineligible to apply for the same or similar project.

    * Undergraduate Students: Winners of over $2,500 from last year's 2020-2021 Iowa Innovation Challenge are ineligible to apply for the same or similar project.

Phase 1: Fall 2021 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.

A pitch workshop will be held Friday, October 22 from 11:30-12:20 at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL) 322 N Clinton St.  Please contact Jan Finlayson to signup to attend.  Elevator Pitch Competition applications are due October 28.

Faculty, staff, graduate students and incubator startups will compete on Monday, November 15, 2021.   You will be able to select a time to present via a signup after applications are accepted.  

Undergraduate students will compete on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.   Signups will also be sent to schedule your presentation time.

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 October 28, 2021
  • $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
  • Coaching and guidance on how to prepare for the pitch will be offered.
  • Please note: Awarding of $2,000 or more will only be paid after next step meeting and milestones are met.
  • Format:  3 minute pitch, followed by 5 minutes Q&A.  Optional PPT.

Undergraduate students

 

  • Application deadline October 28, 2021.
  • $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 25 finalists will be selected to advance and pitch to judges
  • Coaching and guidance on how to prepare for the pitch will be offered.
  • Please note: Awarding of $1,000 or more will only be paid after next step meeting and milestones are met.
  • Format:  3 minute pitch, followed by 5 minutes Q&A.  Optional PPT. 
 
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.

Next Steps

Deadline to enter is Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.

Drop-in Coaching will be available to anyone needing guidance. Stop by the Bedell Entrepreneurial Learning Laboratory (BELL) at 322 N Clinton St. between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the following dates:

Oct. 22

Oct. 29

Nov. 5

No appointment necessary for coaching.

Spaces are limited to compete, apply now!

APPLY HERE  

creating an elevator speech

An elevator speech, or elevator pitch, is a short verbal presentation that tells someone what your business is. This video walks you through how to write and give a great elevator speech that will 'wow' your audience!

ELEVATOR SPEECH ACTIVITY

JUDGING CRITERIA

Developing your pitch...the following is criteria on which your pitch will be judged:

Identify Problem  Did they identify the problem? Provide evidence it exists?

Identify Solution  Did they identify the solution and the value it presents?

Feasibility  How easily could idea be implemented?  Do they understand the resources necessary?

Delivery/Engagement  Are they passionate about the idea?  Was the presentation engaging?

GET A JUMPSTART

Get a jumpstart on the competition! Check out our Innovation Training page for videos and worksheets from experts with quick and easy tips to help you succeed in competitions and take your idea to the next level.

INNOVATION TRAINING

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