Startup and Entrepreneur Competitions

The Arizona Commerce Authority supports a dynamic startup ecosystem by providing opportunities for mentorship and growth. We encourage startups and entrepreneurs to use the below competitions as a resource to unlock global opportunities.



Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge

Open Date: Now
Close Date: January 17, 2020

The Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge calls for students and recent graduates from any college or university with an innovative mindset and entrepreneurial skills to leverage technology for social impact. Cisco's challenge seeks to recognize new business ideas that use digital technology to positively impact society or the environment in areas related to critical human needs. The $350,000 grand prize will accelerate adoption of the winning idea.

Patents for Humanity

Open Date: Now
Close Date: January 31, 2020

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognizes innovators developing technology to overcome global humanitarian challenges in ways that are affordable, scalable, and sustainable through its Patents for Humanity competition. Winners enjoy an expedited process for select USPTO proceedings in addition to public recognition as pioneering visionaries.

US National Academy of Medicine Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge

Open Date: January 13, 2020
Close Date: February 24, 2020

As part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, the US competition will grant 24 Catalyst Awards to those with innovative and transformative ideas that equitably improve the well-being of an aging population. Specific topic areas and approaches may vary, including biology, urban planning, disease prevention, technology and behavioral health. The competition is open to anyone residing in the US, although for-profit companies are limited to less than $10 million in annual revenue and early stage endeavors are preferred.


Open Date: Now
Close Date: February 24, 2020

Organized by the Global Infrastructure Hub, InfraChallenge invites participants to pitch their ideas to take on major infrastructure challenges using digital solutions. Awardees receive $AUD 50,000 to implement their solution, support from MIT Solve, exposure to the G20's Infrastructure Working Group and global media coverage.

Indy Autonomous Challenge

Open Date: Now
Close Date: February 28, 2020

The Indy Autonomous Challenge is a university competition that brings together public, private and academic stakeholders in a collaborative effort to further the advancement of automated vehicle technology. The Challenge promotes accelerated commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and enhanced advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). The Challenge seeks to improve safety and environmental quality, solve "edge case" scenarios, catalyze new AV technologies and innovators and engage with the public to promote social acceptance.


Open Date: February 29, 2020
Close Date: June 30, 2020

CodeLaunch, an annual seed accelerator competition, is for startups with software technology concepts that have not yet reached the Minimally Viable Product (MVP) stage. All software and app ideas are accepted. Successful applicants will attend a Pitch Day competition and Startup Expo with investors, venture capitalists and other stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Milken-Penn Education Business Plan Competition

Open Date: March 4, 2020
Close Date: April 15, 2020

The Milken-Penn Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) aims to cultivate a robust ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs, practitioners and researchers who address persistent and emerging education challenges. Open to applicants worldwide, the competition pushes research ideas into practice. Since 2010, the competition has awarded $1.4 million in funds.

MIT Solve

Open Date: February 2020
Close Date: July 2020

Solve leverages a community of tech entrepreneurs to solve the world's most pressing problems. As a "marketplace for social impact," Solve seeks innovative, human-centered, technology based solutions that last. Solver teams receive 9 months of support from Solve and MIT's network of experts, funders, and peers. Finalists pitch their idea to a live audience during the UN General Assembly Week in New York City. Anyone with ideas at any development stage are encouraged to enter.

MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge

Open Date: March 2020
Close Date: May 2020

In its Inclusive Innovation Challenge, MIT seeks a diverse, global set of startups and other entrepreneurial organizations (any age, size, or type) focused on creating economic opportunity for moderate and low-income earners. With annual awards exceeding $1.5 million, the Challenge offers up to four categories for interested technology companies: skills development and opportunity matching, income growth and job creation, technology access and financial inclusion. Companies should be beyond the idea phase for successful entry into the competition.

Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge

Open Date: March 2020
Close Date: May 2020

The Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge encourages the development of promising, sustainable business plans from entrepreneurs all over the world. Twenty-five entrepreneurs' sustainable business plans will be considered. Finalists will present their business plan to an audience and a panel of experts. Winners will receive a cash award and six months of coaching to support their efforts. Plans that accelerate a carbon-free reality are especially welcome.

Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2020

Open Date: Q2 2020

The Disrupt conference brings startup stakeholders together: it's a one-stop-shop to see the future of tech, learn from top industry experts, and make crucial connections. Startup Battlefield lives up to its reputation as original startup competition, where powerhouses like Dropbox, Mint, and Fitbit all launched. Selected companies (pre-series A) receive renowned coaching opportunities and access to top-tier investors.

Cartier Women's Initiative Awards 2021

Open Date: Summer 2020

The Cartier Women's Initiative is an annual program that identifies, supports, and promotes women-run, for-profit entrepreneurial endeavors. Finalists from around the world will receive personalized coaching, access to workshops, networking opportunities and extensive media exposure. Companies may operate within any sector, but must be early stage, currently generate revenue and meet UN Sustainability Goals with strong social impact.

NFTE World Series of Innovation

Open Date: September 15, 2020

The World Series of Innovation involves young people in finding innovative solutions to humanity's most pressing challenges. Participants (ages 13-24) from all over the world may submit their ideas to address the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. The innovator with the best idea in each category is awarded a cash prize.

Startup World Cup

Open Date: Fall 2020 (Regional)

Startup World Cup is a global conference and startup pitch competition that attracts some of the biggest entrepreneurial names. Leading up to the event, which awards one grand prize of $1 million, 40 regional startup competitions are held around the world. The regional US competition takes place in December.  

SXSW 2021

Open Date: Fall 2020

Every year, SXSW hosts a highly anticipated pitch competition to showcase innovative new technology-based startups to a panel of distinguished judges and a live audience. Pitches and product demonstrations for technology in a variety of categories highlight ambitious ideas.

Flinn Foundation Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program, 2021

Open Date: Fall 2020

The Flinn Foundation Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program is a competitive funding program for six early-stage, Arizona bioscience firms that prepares companies to be "investor ready." To be eligible, bioscience firms must be in the process of commercializing their research and technology. 

Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program and Pitch Competition

Open Date: Fall 2020

The Tory Burch Fellows Program focuses on early stage, revenue-generating, for-profit, and women-run businesses. Fellows attend a five-day workshop, receive a $5,000 grant to pursue business education opportunities, and have the chance to participate in a pitch competition at the conclusion of the program.

Y Combinator

This widely recognized biannual competition provides $150,000 in seed funding to promising startups. Participants temporarily relocate to Silicon Valley for intensive training, mentoring, and networking before pitching to investors on an exclusive "Demo Day."

AHA Innovation Challenge

The American Hospital Association hosts an annual Innovation Challenge to encourage the development of healthcare related technology. Winning solutions are awarded substantial cash prizes to bring the concepts to fruition. Diverse ideas that tackle a wide range of challenges in meeting community health needs are welcomed. 

SPIE Startup Challenge

Close Date: November 15, 2020

In this global competition, entrepreneurs with light-enabled products have five minutes to pitch their idea for $85,000 in cash, prizes and promotions. The competition is held at Photonics West, the largest research conference and trade show for light-based products in North America. New this year is an Entrepreneur Program, which includes a week of training, panels and networking events.

Collision Pitch

Open Date: Now

PITCH is one of the major events held during Collision. This startup pitch competition is open to early-stage startups that received less than $3 million in funding, and have not made any significant changes to their business model within the past three years. The 66 startups chosen from the pool of applicants the conference receives each year will get the change to pitch their startup in front of representatives from over 5,600 companies from 120+ countries.

Hello Tomorrow Global Challenges

Open Date: June 2020
Close Date: September 2020

This competition, designed specifically for science and deep tech entrepreneurs, allows startups to pitch in front of an expert audience to be spotted by international media. The winner receives a grand prize of €100K, and track winners receive €10K each.