Rice U. offers $1.5M in business plan competition

Applications open for Rice Business Plan Competition, which offers funding prizes for startup ideas

business-plan-competitionApplications are now open for the 16th annual Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business April 14-16.

Graduate students with a business plan for a new startup company are encouraged to apply to compete.

Forty-two teams from the world’s top universities will be selected from the applicants to vie for more than $1.5 million in prizes in the Rice Business Plan Competition, which in November was named the No. 1 business plan competition for offering “serious cash” by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

Deadline for applications is 5 p.m. CST Feb. 19. Students will need to submit a three-page executive summary and one-minute video pitch through the competition’s website. This year, all teams who apply will receive feedback on their startup from the competition’s Review and Selection Committee, comprising select members of the judging panel.

More than 750 teams are expected to apply to compete in four categories: life sciences; information technology/web/mobile; energy/clean technology; and tech innovation. A cohort of more than 300 judges will select the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.

Cisco joined the competition this year offering three Cisco Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Challenge prizes. The three cash prizes will be awarded in the amounts of $100,000, $25,000 and $10,000. The Cisco IoE Innovation Challenge aims to recognize entrepreneurs that promote and accelerate the adoption of breakthrough technologies, products and services that capture the value of IoE to benefit society.

Cisco seeks to empower a generation of global problem-solvers that are advancing the evolution of IoE especially in the areas of connectivity, health care, the environment, critical human needs, education, connected/smart solutions (for example, smart home, smart city, smart energy, connected transportation and wearables), big data, analytics and cloud computing. Special consideration will be given to businesses that capture this value while simultaneously benefiting society and the environment.

Other top prizes include the $300,000 Investment Grand Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas, the OWL Investment Prize, which totaled $285,000 in 2015, and the $50,000 U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Prize. There will also be specific prizes for the best women’s health innovation, top energy team, top IT team and top team led by women. The 2016 grand prizewinner will ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City.

More than 150 former competitors have successfully launched their ventures and are still in business today, and another 15 have successfully sold their ventures. Past Rice Business Plan Competition competitors have raised over $1.2 billion in funding and created more than 3,000 new jobs.

“The true measure of success for the Rice Business Plan Competition is the number of teams that launch, raise funding and go on to succeed in their business,” said Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University, which hosts the event. “The competition has served as the launch pad for a great number of successful entrepreneurial ventures, and the success rate exceeds the national average.”

For more information on the 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition, visit

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione