...And The Winners Are

Award announcements

  • SIPA Dean's Public Policy Challenge Video 5:37
  • Technology Challenge sponsored by Columbia Engineering Video 3:33
  • Global Technology Challenge sponsored by Columbia Engineering Video 1:59
  • StartupColumbia Challenge presented by tempCFO Video 6:51
  • Undergraduate Challenge sponsored by Columbia College Video 4:45

...The Finalists Were

  • SIPA Dean's Public Policy Challenge [Video 3:25]
  • Technology Challenge sponsored by Columbia Engineering [Video 3:15]
  • Global Technology Challenge sponsored by Columbia Engineering [Video 4:06]
  • StartupColumbia Challenge [Video 3:26]
  • Undergraduate Challenge sponsored by Columbia College [Video 3:13]

Second annual $250,000 Columbia Venture Competition.

Let the Games Begin!

This year, the Columbia Venture Competition (CVC) goes global and comes with a total prize pool of $250,000 in cash grants!

The CVC has five tracks or challenges. Each challenge will split $50K among the top three winners. Three of the challenges are open to all students and all recent alumni (within five years of degree) from across the worldwide Columbia community. The Undergraduate Challenge, sponsored by Columbia College, is open to all current Columbia and Barnard College undergrads. CVC judges will come from across Columbia’s worldwide alumni community and will represent diverse backgrounds and a wide-ranging set expertise.

The Five Challenges:

StartupColumbia Challenge

This challenge is all about customer development and demonstrating product-market fit. Cash grants will be awarded to those teams that best prepare and present compelling and empirical evidence of market acceptance for their value propositions. If you don’t have empirical evidence, this is not the Challenge for you. For second-round submissions and final presentations, documented proof of business model viability must be provided. This proof may come in the form of qualitative and quantitative market surveys, customer development interview summaries, or current customer, revenue, or unit shipment counts.

Judges will reward those teams who also provide historical perspective on how the business model evolved over time in response to customer feedback.

All business models will be considered. Not-for-profit and social enterprise models will also be accepted but these teams should be clear about how the venture plans on sustaining itself financially. Further, if sustainability will be achieved through philanthropy, expertise in philanthropic fundraising should be demonstrated.

Eligibility: Open to all Columbia University students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most recent degree).

Technology Challenge, sponsored by Columbia Engineering

Entries must include business models based on a solid foundation of applied, solution-focused, technology innovation. Submissions must focus on product development, innovative design, and “builder” technologies including data analytics, biomendical solutions, software, or hardware. Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.

Eligibility: Open to all Columbia University students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most recent degree).

Global Technology Challenge sponsored by Columbia Engineering

Entries must include technology or data-driven solutions to address global challenges. These challenges could represent problems—whether environmental, sustainability, health, disaster relief, or security-related. Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.

Eligibility: Open to all Columbia University students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most recent degree).

Columbia Undergraduate Challenge sponsored by Columbia College

Prize grants will be awarded to the top teams with the most innovative and viable business model. Winning entries must document the incorporation of customer or user feedback into the design of their business model.

Eligibility: Open only to undergraduate teams from Columbia University and Barnard College. Undergraduates from other universities may enter as members of Columbia- or Barnard-teams but the roles of the founders must be provided and the length of time each founder has been working with the team must also be provided.

SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant

The Public Policy Grant Program of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) invites students to form teams to propose student-designed projects and prototypes that use ICTs and/or data analytics to solve urban problems around the world. Solutions may be market-based, public/philanthropic supported, or a mix. The Program encourages the formation of teams that integrate students of public policy, computer science, engineering and other fields across Columbia University. All teams must include at least one SIPA student in a substantive role.

Eligibility: Rules, eligibility and deadlines for this challenge are separate from the above challenges. Details are available by emailing sipa.challenge.grant@sipa.columbia.edu

The Deadlines

Feb 19th Executive Summaries Due (11:59PM in YouNoodle here) Executive summaries must:

  • Contain the name, school affiliation and degree year for all team members.
  • Non-Columbia affiliated members will be considered but for blended teams the role of each founder must be clearly explained. CVC administrators may ask for proof of when each founder joined the team.
  • Describe your venture idea and address the criteria that are unique to the track you’ve entered.

March 7th Announcement of teams who’ve been selected to advance.

March 23 Second-Round Submissions Due (11:59PM in YouNoodle platform) Second-Round Submissions must:

  • Include both a slide deck (PDF-format preferred, Prezi not allowed) and a link to a three-minute video
  • Contain one slide with a brief bio and role of each member of the team
  • Clearly and in detail address the criteria unique of the track you’ve entered. .

April 11 Finalists will be announced.

April 28 Final Round, “Live”, In-Person Presentations In-person Presentations must not exceed five minutes for the presentation and five minutes to answer judges questions. For international teams who cannot travel to the Columbia University campus may present via teleconferencing or skype.

The Judging Criteria, Rules and Eligibility

Columbia Venture Competition (hereafter referred to as “CVC”) has five separate tracks; each track comes with a unique set of judging criteria and eligibility requirements. Competitors are asked create an account on our YouNoodle competition platform here and enter their venture descriptions. When entering your description, consider the judging criteria below.
Choose One of Five CVC Tracks Carefully

Read the judging criteria for all five tracks carefully, consider the specific judging criteria, and choose your track wisely. When entering your venture’s information into the Younoodle, refer back to the judging criteria for the track you have choosen. Individuals and teams may only enter one track. In a few isolated cases, CVC administrators may reserve the right to reassign competitors from one track to another.

Blended Teams With Members From Other Universities

Generally speaking, entries from current Columbia students (and Barnard students for the Undergraduate Challenge) and alumni within five years of their degree will be accepted. Entries from blended teams that include non-Columbia-affiliated members will also be considered.

CVC administrators reserve the right to determine if the Columbia members of a blended have played a significant role in founding and running the company and are currently engaged wtih the team. CVC may disqualify a blended team if they don't meet this criteria.

If a blended team wins, award funds will only be granted if the Columbia-affiliated founder remains on the team at the time the funds are ready to be awarded.

  1. CVC is intended for new, independent ventures in the seed or early start-up stages.
  2. Businesses built using technologies or IP licensed from Columbia University will be accepted but ownership of the IP must be clearly stated and documented. Ownership of intellectual property and equity shares in the business must not be in dispute.
  3. Status of incorporation and any funding received must be clearly stated.
  4. Teams must not have raised more than $150,000 prior to March 1st, 2016
  5. Columbia Venture Competition is intended for ventures founded, managed, and owned by eligible founders (students or recent alumni within 5 years of degree). Winning teams with non-Columbia-affiliated founders must document the role all founders have had in the conception and development of the venture. At least one of founder must be a Columbia student or recent alumnus (recent alumni within 5 years of degree).
  6. All team members are asked to state their university and school affiliation with degree year. CVC administrators may also require proof of the length of time each of founder has been engaged in their venture.
  7. Participating teams are encouraged to seek support and mentorship where they can find it. Faculty support is not a requirement.
  8. Teams who have won a CVC challenge in prior years may not enter the same challenge again but can enter another challenge. For example the 2015 Undergrad Challenge winner may enter the #StartupColumbia Challenge in 2016.
  9. Teams may only enter one challenge.
  10. CVC finalists must present live or via teleconferencing on Thursday April 28, 2016.
  11. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 29th at the #Startup Columbia Festival. Winners must agree release rights to use their images and brief descriptions of their business models to help promote Columbia University programs. Winners will be given rights to use their images, photos and videos for their own promotional purposes.
  12. It may take Columbia up to three months after the final winners are determined to award the grants.
  13. Eligibility is contingent on compliance with the rules listed above. Teams can be disqualified at any point, during the competition and prior to receiving funds at the administrators’ discretion. Disqualification is final and cannot be appealed.


There is no formal non-disclosure agreement in place for the Columbia Venture Competition. Participants’ executive summaries and pitch decks will only be seen by the Venture Competition administrators and the judging panel. Neither of those documents will be distributed more broadly unless explicit permission is received from the team. Teams should be aware that CVC administrators will not require judges to sign non-disclosure agreements. Confidentiality has never presented a problem but we do advise that teams provide as much detail as possible without disclosing propritary information or unprotected IP.

Ready? Great! Start by opening an account on the YouNoodle here.