Columbia Venture Competition

The Columbia Venture Competition was first launched in April 2009, and has paid out more than $100,000 in prize money to early-stage ventures all founded by young Columbia entrepreneurs. Over the years the competition has grown in the number of submissions and in competition quality.

Congrats to our CVC winners:

Technology Challenge
1st place - Neovel, with graphene-based stretchable screens for wearable devices
2nd place - Inject-a-flow, with micro-tissue therapy to prevent amputations in patients with severe vascular disease
3rd place - Pixm, with AI-based authentication technology to detect visual signatures to prevent phishing

Global Technology Challenge
1st place - Hyliion, with an add-on suspension system for freight trucks using hybrid technology to reduce fuel consumption
2nd place - Matri-Tek, with tissue-specific, tailored cell culture scaffolding for growing biomaterials
3rd place - Neopenda, with a method to monitor neonatal vitals with engineered hats in low-resource settings

See the full story here!

 

Judging

  • Judges come from across the Columbia Entrepreneurship alumni community and have a wide range of expertise and backgrounds. At SEAS, Columbia Engineering's Entrepreneurship Advisory Board is part of the judging committee.

 

Challenges (Separate Tracks)

  • The Columbia Venture Competition’s five challenges offer a combined pool of $250,000 in cash grants (no strings attached) to any team of current students or recent alumni who prevail in the competition.

#Startup Columbia Challenge ($50K)
Cash Grants will be awarded to teams that do the best job of presenting empirical evidence of market acceptance for their value propositions; proof of viability of the business model must be provided.
Eligibility: Open to students and recent alumni (five years or less) from Columbia University

Technology Challenge ($50K) sponsored by SEAS
Teams should have business models based on a solid foundation of applied, solution-focused technology innovation. Entries should focus on product development, innovative design and “builder” technologies including data analytics, software, or hardware. Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.
Eligibility: Open to students and recent alumni (five years or less) from Columbia University

Columbia Undergraduate Challenge ($50K)
Teams must show empirical evidence of having incorporated customer or user feedback into the design of their business model.
Eligibility: Open to all undergraduate-only teams from Columbia University and Barnard College

SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant ($50K)
Proposals from students for innovative products that use digital technology and data to improve the global urban environment
Eligibility: Teams must have at least one current SIPA student.

Global Technology Challenge ($50K) sponsored by SEAS
Entries should be tech or data-driven solutions to address global challenges. Ventures should feature technology and data-driven solutions to address global challenges. 'Global challenges,' represent problems—whether environmental, sustainability, health, disaster relief, or security-related. Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.
Eligibility: Open to students and recent alumni (five years or less) from Columbia University

Rules

  • Individuals and teams may only enter one track.
  • Teams must have Columbia-affiliated students or recent alumni (five years from most recent degree) at the core of the venture but may include additional contributing members.
  • CVC is intended for ventures created, managed, and owned by Columbia-eligible students or recent alumni (five years or less from most recent degree). These Columbia-affiliated team members must have all played a substantive role in conceiving and developing the venture. CVC administrators will make this subjective ruling.
  • CVC is intended for new, independent ventures in the seed or start-up stages.
  • Status of incorporation, legal formation, and any funding received must be clearly stated.
  • Teams may not have received more than $150,000 in investment funding (in exchange for equity) or $250,000 in non-dilutive grants.
  • Ownership of intellectual property and equity shares in the business must not be in dispute.
  • Licensing technologies from Columbia University is acceptable but the ownership of the technology or intellectual property must be clearly stated.
  • Participating teams are encouraged to seek support, mentors, and advice but faculty support is not a requirement.
  • Teams who have won or placed in Columbia competitions in past years may not enter the same competition again.
  • Finalist teams must present on in person on Thursday April 23, 2015. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 24th at the #Startup Columbia Festival.
  • Eligibility is contingent on compliance with the rules listed above.
  • Additional eligibility rules and judges scoring criteria are listed below.

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 planning committee and the judging panel. Neither of those documents will be distributed 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 in the past and we don’t expect any issues to arise from it in the future.

 

FAQs

Tracks, Eligibility, and Teams

Which track should I enter into?
You may only enter into one track. Is your team composed of all undergraduate students? If so, you should enter into the Undergraduate Challenge. Otherwise, if your team is composed of current Columbia students or recent alumni (5 years from their most recent degree), you can enter into any of the other challenges.

If your product is focused on technology to address global challenges, you should enter into the Global Technology Challenge; if your product is focused on technology-driven innovations, enter into the Technology Challenge; if your product is focused on product-market fit, customer development, and innovative business models, then enter into the #StartupColumbia Challenge.

See more on judging criteria and eligibility.

I have team members who are not current Columbia students or recent alumni. Is my group still eligible to compete?
Yes, as long as you have core members of the team that are eligible (i.e. current Columbia students or alumni 5 years from their most recent degree). If these eligible members fill out the application and are present for the competition, you may have contributing members who are students or alumni from other universities or Columbia alumni that are more than 5 years from their most recent degree.

Can I have non-undergraduate students on my team and enter into the Undergraduate Challenge?
No. Teams registering for the Undergraduate Challenge must be composed entirely of undergraduate students.

Can I have non-Columbia undergraduate students on my team and enter into the Undergraduate Challenge?
Yes. Teams competing in the Undergraduate Challenge may have undergraduate students from other universities given that the team contains core members who are Columbia undergraduates who fill out the application and are present for the competition.

We are an all-undergraduate team with older mentors or advisors. Can we still enter into the Undergraduate Challenge?
Yes, as long as these non-undergraduate contributors to your team are strictly in a mentor or advisor role.

Can I register without a team?
Yes. Individuals may compete without teams, but we highly encourage you to find team members to support you. If you are looking for contributing members, check out columbia.cofounderslab.com for online matchmaking, or come to a CORE or ADI event to meet potential partners face to face.

How can I enter into the SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Grant?
For all questions regarding the SIPA Dean's Public Policy Grant, please visit this website.

Application

How should I submit my executive summary and what should it contain?
The Executive Summary will be submitted online via the YouNoodle platform and should be based on the components of the business plan, i.e. the problem the company solves, market analysis, product or service description, competitive differentiation, etc.  

What about confidentiality?
There is no formal non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place for the Columbia Venture Competition. Participants’ executive summaries and pitch decks will only be seen by the Venture Competition planning committee and the judging panel. Neither of those documents will be distributed unless explicit permission is received from the team. CVC administrators will not require judges to sign non-disclosure agreements. We do not have our VC judges sign NDAs, because as you may have heard, "VCs don't sign NDAs." That being said, we do not share your information with other competitors or with people other than the program managers and the judges who will read your executive summary. Confidentiality has never presented a problem in the past and we don’t expect any issues to arise from it in the future.

At the level of the executive summary, where not much information is shared, check out some good thoughts from Mark Suster, an entrepreneur turned VC: www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2009/07/26/on-ndas-and-confidentiality/

 

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