About the UMass Innovation Challenge

Welcome to the UMass Innovation Challenge (UMass IC). We award over $65K in 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 one workshop each year. In addition, the IC offers occasional events, workshops, and outside speakers to encourage and inform all students and faculty interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • The October Pitch Competition offers participants an easy way to get started and test business ideas without having to develop written business models or plans.
  • The Executive Summary and Elevator 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 Business Plan Competition takes place in April. The best of the best compete for over $50K in prizes. Judges determine winning teams and award amounts.