About

The Iowa Innovation Challenge will bring $250,000 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 2021. Application due dates for phase 1 to be announced. The second phase, a Business Model Competition, will be held in spring 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 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 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 application due dates and format of the competition for November 2021 to be announced.

Faculty, staff, graduate students and incubator startups pitch dates to be announced.

Undergraduate students pitch dates to be announced.

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 for November 2021 to be announced
  • $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 through online workshops
  • Please note: Awarding of $2,000 or more will only be paid after next step meeting and milestones are met.

Undergraduate students

 

  • Application deadline for November 2021 to be announced
  • $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
  • 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.
 
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. The Spring 2021 Business Model Canvas competition has occurred.

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.

  • If you are an undergraduate student, please see this page for more information and to apply.
  • If you are UI Faculty, Staff, Graduate Student, or Incubator Startup, please see this page for more information and to apply.
  • If you are a UI Program and Academic Alumni, please see this page for more information and to apply.

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

Thank you to our Sponsor

The Starman Family

Next Steps

Information regarding phase 1 of the Iowa Innovation Challenge to be announced in Fall 2021.

Contact us