This page contains information for University of Iowa undergrad students interested in participating in the Innovation Challenge.

*If you are UI faculty, staff, graduate student, or incubator startup please see this page for additional information.
*If you are a program or academic alumni of UI please visit this page for additional information.



Information for University of Iowa Undergraduate Students

  • Up to $50,000 in prizes available
  • Applications will be reviewed and 20 student finalists will be selected to advance and pitch to judges
  • Finalist will be given coaching and guidance on how to prepare for their pitch.

Application opens in January 2024 after the spring semester begins.  Deadline to apply is Monday, March 25, 2024.


A five-page maximum executive summary will be submitted as a part of the application process. This summary should include:

  • Problem and solution
  • Value proposition
  • Customer segments
  • Revenue to date
  • Financial potential
  • Current Status and milestones achieved
  • Use of proceeds
  • Validation using Lean Startup Methodology

For reference on format, please visit the following links:


  • Must be University of Iowa undergraduate student currently enrolled in 6 semester hours or more.
  • Individual signing up and pitching must be a Founder/Co-Founder and/or have equal or controlling interest in the business.
  • Businesses of all levels are accepted.


Twenty finalists will be notified and given more information regarding the format and what is required of them. You will also have the opportunity to meet with Iowa JPEC staff prior to the competition to practice your pitch.


  • 5 minutes pitch with slide deck
  • 10 minutes Q & A
  • Prototypes, photos, handouts, etc. are also allowed


Twenty finalists will be selected to pitch in the Innovation Challenges' Business Model Competition. Once finalists are notified, additional details regarding the competition will be sent to them. 

Undergraduate winners will be awarded up to $50,000 in seed money to advance their business ventures in various categories.  Categories are determined by judges and JPEC staff. 

*Please Note: Prizes over a set amount ($2,000 for faculty, staff, graduate students, and incubator startups | $1,000 for undergraduate students) will not be paid until the individual(s)/team meet with a member of Iowa JPEC leadership or UI Ventures to discuss how the funds will be used. Significant prizes will be distributed when set milestones are met by the individual(s)/team as agreed upon in this meeting.


Deadline to apply March 25, 2024.

A training workshop for the business model canvas will be held Feb. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL), 322 North Clinton Street. To attend, RSVP HERE.

Additional coaching will be available, let Patti Fields know if you need to schedule. 

Space is limited to compete. 


Judging Criteria

Judges will consider the following during your presentation:

  • Problem: What customer problem does their product and/or service solve.
  • Solution: Please describe the product or service.
  • Value Proposition: What benefits does the product or service deliver to the customers and how do these compare to those delivered by their competition?
  • Customer Segments: Outline who the customers are and how they plan to reach them.
  • Financial Potential: Describe any revenue to date and the financial potential of their business opportunity.
  • Validation of the above using Business Model Canvas / Lean Startup Methodology