Established in 2005, the Innovation Challenge is a four-part cross-campus entrepreneurship competition that launches promising ventures to the next levels of startup, originally created by Michael F. Malone, Vice Chancellor of Research and Engagement and the Ronnie and Eugene Isenberg Distinguished Professor of Engineering, and the late Soren Bisgaard, the Eugene M. Isenberg Professorship of Technology Management (2002-09).
The 2015-16 academic year was the first that the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship was proud to claim stewardship of this highly successful program. Innovation Challenge has awarded up to $80K in prizes each academic year through competitive events that are designed to propel UMass students and young alumni 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 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!
Mentors will be on hand to provide feedback. Teams may apply for the first three phases of the competition. Prize money is awarded at three stages.
The Minute Pitch: 60 seconds ... $1,000. Get started and test venture ideas in front of a panel of judges. Mentors will be on site to provide feedback. No written business models or plans required. $2,500 in seed money awarded to the four teams, the top three and the audience choice winner, as determined by the judges.
The Seed Pitch : Form your business model and perfect your elevator pitch. Convince the judges how and why your venture will be successful. $15,000 in seed money awarded to select teams as determined by the judges.
The Semifinal: Simulate the investor boardroom experience. Present your venture to a panel of judges in a closed-door setting and compete for a spot in the Final.
The Final: The best of the best vie for significant financial contributions to move their venture forward. $65,000 in seed money awarded to select teams as determined by the judges.