An initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship, the Rice Business Plan Competition is organised by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. Applications have been opened for graduate-level student startups to compete, winning cash, among other prizes.

The 20-year competition, launched in 2001 has grown from various teams of nine startups competing for $10,000 to 42 teams competing for over $1.5 million in cash and prizes globally. The goal is to provide the best overall educational and entrepreneurial experience of any business plan or new venture competition.

Designed to give college students, who are entrepreneurs, a real-world experience, the programme seeks to help them refine their business plans and elevator pitches, so as to generate funding to successfully commercialise their product.

Some sectors to compete in includes:

  • Energy, cleantech and sustainability 
  • Hard-tech 
  • Life sciences and healthcare solutions 
  • Digital enterprise 
  • Consumer products and services 


  • Startup advancement 
  • Over $1 million in prizes
  • All 42 startups that compete at Rice University in Houston are guaranteed to win cash prizes (if the event is held in-person)
  • Minimum cash prize is $500 for the in-person competition
  • Grand prize winner receives $350,000 investment (typically in the form of a convertible debt note, without geographic restrictions) in both an in-person event and a remote/virtual event


  • Startup must be student-driven, student-created and/or student-managed.
  • Startup must have at least two current student founders or management team members
  • Startup must have at least one of those students is a current graduate degree-seeking student
  • Student must be  from a college or university anywhere in the world
  • Startup has not raised more than $250,000 in equity capital prior to July 1, 2020
  • Startup must be seeking funding or capital (or will be in the next 12 months)
  • Startup must be a potentially viable investment opportunity

How to apply

Is your startup student-driven? Do you meet all the required criteria to particulate in the competition? Then apply before the deadline on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

Got a story worth telling? Shoot us an email with SUBJECT — “Story Worth Telling” — to [email protected].

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