InVenture Prize

Everyone thinks their idea is innovative. Prove why yours is imperative.

Have an entrepreneurial idea that you think has real potential? Interested in seeing how your idea stacks up against those from student innovators at other top research universities? The InVenture Prize is a chance to turn your idea into a real solution and compete against other students at UNC and the Atlantic Coast Conference to show why your idea rises to the top. This innovation competition begins at UNC as the Innovate Carolina InVenture Prize, which  is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. It is open to current undergraduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill and recent graduates who hold bachelor’s degrees.

Students can work independently or as a team to present their innovation project, prototype or venture to a panel of judges at Carolina. If you advance to the next round, you will be eligible for funding to support your prototype, receive one-on-one coaching from community experts and then represent UNC at a larger-scale competition: the third-annual ACC Inventure Prize event, which is hosted at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. At this stage, you compete against the top student innovators from the 14 other ACC schools. 

How it works

A student team with an idea or venture that meets the criteria must apply by January 7 to participate in the competition. The first round of pitches are offered to all applicants the week of January 17.  This first round is a quick-pitch competition that gives each student and student team five minutes to go on stage before a panel of judges to pitch their invention. The judges then follow up with ten minutes of questions and comments. 

The judges select a number of teams to advance to the next round, which makes them eligible for a prototype award.  Those few teams will be able to participate in weekly workshops during the month of February to move their ideas forward and prepare for the final round. During the final round, the teams will each give a three-minute presentation of their invention to a panel of expert judges followed by three minutes of Q&A. The selected team will spend the following month in weekly one-on-one sessions with various experts from the Carolina and local entrepreneurial community to prepare for the ACC InVenture Prize at NC State on April 16-17.

Team eligibility requirements

Each team member must meet all of the eligibility requirements listed below:

–The team may be composed of full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill or recent Carolina alumni who graduated from their undergraduate program within the past year.

–If a team member is a recent graduate of the University, the idea for the invention must have been initially conceived while the student was enrolled as an undergraduate.

–Entrants should be the original creators, inventors or owners of the intellectual property (IP) underlying their invention. 

–A team whose idea or invention qualifies as University-owned IP is not eligible to enter.

–Teams with generated revenue or venture capital funding in excess of $100,000 are not eligible to compete. This includes funding from both institutional and non-institutional sources (contests, grants, friends and family, bank loans, etc.).

Judging criteria

The judging criteria will consist of four main categories:

Idea: Idea validity, novelty and potential commercial and social impact.


Business Model Canvas: Value proposition, cost structure, key resources, key partners,  customer discovery and validation (marketability, market size), and product or service development strength.


Entrepreneurship: Future vision, team commitment and culture, team expertise and knowledge, and pitch delivery.


Probability of Becoming a Successful Business: Competitive advantage and probability of receiving investment.

Dates to know

November 5: Applications opens.

November 13 (11 a.m.), November 14 (2 p.m.) and November 15 (4 p.m.): Innovate Carolina InVenture Prize Information Sessions at 1789.

January 7:  Applications close.

January 17: Carolina Inventure Prize First Round at 1789 (time TBD).

Month of February: Workshops offered to the top five finalists.

February 28: Innovate Carolina InVenture Prize Final Round at 1789 (time TBD).

Month of March – Weekly one-on-one sessions with the selected team and various experts from the UNC and local entrepreneurial community.

April 16–17: Final pitch at the ACC InVenture Prize at NC State.

Prototype Awards

Funding may be available to select teams to assist with prototype construction. In order to be considered for an award, students must provide both an itemized budget and a statement (500 words max.) answering the question: “How will a Prototype Award help me or my team win the InVenture Prize?”

The initial prototype work must be completed by the Carolina Inventure Prize Finals on February 28.