About the UMass Innovation Challenge

Welcome to the UMass Innovation Challenge (UMass IC). We award prizes each academic year though competitive events that are designed to help and reward UMass students and young alumni from any of the system’s five campuses who want to pursue a novel business idea and develop it into a marketable product.

The goal is for interdisciplinary teams to conceptualize a product with regard to its scientific and technological design, identify customers, and create a business plan for the product’s commercialization. Competition judges are entrepreneurs, legal experts, and consultants who also volunteer their time to mentor with students who are interested in marketing their new ideas.

Students from every discipline and stage of career — undergraduates, graduates and post-docs alike — are encouraged to compete!

The Innovation Challenge includes two public competitions, two closed-door sessions, and several workshops each year. In addition, the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship offers occasional events, workshops, and outside speakers to encourage and inform all students and faculty interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • The Minute Pitch Competition offers participants an easy way to get started and test business ideas without having to develop written business models or plans.

Format of the Event:

5:00 - Registration and networking with Mentors

5:20 - Opening statements by the Berthiaume Center’s Director Bill Wooldridge

5:30 - Pitches begin! Each team has one minute to pitch their business ideas to the four judges (To make sure your pitch is perfect come to Pitch Camp October 20th!)

6:15 - Five Finalists announced

6:30 – Each team selected for the Final Five gets a chance to re-pitch for two minutes, followed by a “Shark Tank” style Q&A by the judges

7:00 - Judges deliberate while teams get feedback from mentors and the audience networks

7:15 - The top three teams are announced and awarded

  • The Seed Pitch Competition challenges and rewards participants for taking the first steps toward building their business model and forming their elevator pitch. In this round, teams must convince the judges why they need money to move forward with their venture. Teams will also get valuable feedback from the judges. The money awarded to each team will vary and reflect progress of venture.
  • The Innovation Challenge Semi-Final Round is a closed-door competition that emulates an investor boardroom experience. Selected teams present their business concepts to a panel of judges and compete for a slot in the final competition.
  • The Final Shark Tank Competition takes place in April. The best of the best compete for over $50K in prizes. Judges determine winning teams and award amounts.