Startup Week competitions and challenges inspire students to think critically and dream big
Startup Week 2020 is just around the corner at University Park and most Penn State Commonwealth campuses – March 30-April 3 – featuring entrepreneurial workshops, networking; student pitch competitions, and presentations from startup founders and corporate innovators, including many Penn State alumni.
One of the highlights of the week is a three-night Start.Me.Up Marketing Sprint challenge held Monday, March 30 thru Wednesday, April 1, at Happy Valley LaunchBox.
The Start.Me.Up Marketing Sprint pairs creative Penn State students looking to build their portfolios with local startups trying to solve real marketing problems. Solutions provided by the students could include logo design, copywriting, and everything in-between and can be real, freelance-style work students can drop into their portfolios. Students must apply by March 6 to participate and space is limited. Visit www.invent.psu.edu/program/startmeup to apply.
As part of the competition, cash prizes will be awarded to the first ($500), second ($150) and third place ($50) students. Featured companies include Argolytics.com, TEAMology.team, StudentFarm.psu.edu, StellerInnovations.com, and OfficeYum.com.
Those winning students, among others, will be acknowledged at the invite-only Student Recognition and Networking Reception, Thursday, April 2, 6 p.m., at Pegula Ice Arena.
The reception, hosted by Penn State President Eric Barron, will feature the work of student teams in a “Gallery of Innovators,” which showcases the work of students who competed in various innovation challenges that occurred during the run-up to and through Startup Week 2020. The reception is sponsored by Verizon®.
In total, sixteen challenges and competitions will be recognized at the reception including:
- IdeaMakers Challenge – hosted by the College of Information Sciences and Technology, student teams will make final pitches that identify an important problem that can be solved by digital innovation
- Ag Springboard – hosted by the College of Agricultural Sciences, teams of students will pitch their ideas for a new business or nonprofit in the food, energy, ecosystems, bioproducts, community development or sustainability sectors while competing for a $7,500 grand prize
- Inc.U Competition – hosted by PennTAP, Inc.U is an undergraduate pitch competition, which culminates in The Investment, a WPSU-TV show featuring student startups competing for up to $30,000
- Nittany AI Challenge – hosted by the Nittany AI Alliance, students are invited to submit their ideas to improve the world by providing solutions for problems within the areas of education, health, humanitarian challenges, sustainability, and climate change. Winning teams receive seed grant funding to continue their work
- Next Valley Venture Competition – hosted by Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program, student teams with a social venture vie for a chance to win money to help launch it
- Arts Business Idea Competition – hosted by the College of Arts and Architecture, individual or student teams with art-based business ideas vie for a top prize of $5,000
- Happy Valley Capital Pitch Competition – hosted by Happy Valley Capital, student-run startups go head-to-head to compete for prizes up to $4,500
- What’s Your Big Idea 2020? Challenge – hosted at Penn State Shenango, awarding multiple $500 grants
- Hack4Impact – hosted at Corner LaunchBox and Penn State New Kensington
- LionLaunch Business Plan Competition – hosted at Penn State Schuylkill, awarding up to $5,000 in seed money
- LION Tank Pitch Competition – hosted at Penn State Mont Alto, awarding $2,500 in grant funding
“Competitions and challenges are a very important part of the Startup Week student experience,” says James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director, office of entrepreneurship and commercialization. “They challenge students to think both creatively and critically, and they’re a platform for building confidence that they can solve problems or start a business in their communities.”
Startup Week is an integral part of the broader Invent Penn State initiative, a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success.
Startup Week, founded in 2012 by the College of Information Sciences and Technology, was created to celebrate a $400,000 gift from David Rusenko (’07- IST) to advance the College’s commitment to supporting student entrepreneurs. Today, the event spans the entire University.
In addition to Invent Penn State, Startup Week 2020 is supported by corporate sponsors, including Verizon® and PNC® Bank.