Columbia Venture Competition

First Round Applications will be due in February 2015!

This year the Columbia Venture Competition will be university wide, with a total prize pool of $250,000!

Register here!

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.

2015 Dates and Deadlines

  • February 11, 11:59 p.m.—executive summaries due; please register to submit a summary (nine short answer questions) here.
  • March TBD, 11:59 p.m.—second round submissions due (video pitch)
  • April TBD—Final round with live judging on campus


  • 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


  • The competition is for new, independent ventures in the seed or start-up stages.
  • Licensing technologies from Columbia University is acceptable but the ownership of the technology or IP must be clearly stated.
  • Status of incorporation and any funding received must be clearly stated.
  • Teams must not have raised more than $150,000 at the time of their entry into the competition.
  • The competition is for ventures created, managed, and owned by eligible (student or recent alumni within five years of graduation) team members where such team members have all played a substantive role in conceiving and developing the venture.
  • Participating teams are encouraged to seek faculty support; however, faculty support is not a requirement.
  • Teams who have won previous Columbia competitions may not enter the same competition again. (Teams can, for example, enter the Fast Pitch and then enter the Columbia Venture Competition.)
  • Teams may only enter one track.
  • Eligibility is contingent on compliance with the rules listed above.
  • Finalist teams must present on Thursday, April 23, 2015. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 24 at the #Startup Columbia Festival.

NDAs: 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 the competition is open to students and faculty and we are not able to 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.

Looking for teammates?

500 W. 120th St., Mudd 510, New York, NY 10027    212-854-2993