2021 Rice University Business Plan Graduate-level Student Startup Competition ($1.5 million in Cash and Prizes)

The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which is Rice University’s internationally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship, and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. 2020 was the 20th year for the competition! In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes. Even in the virtual environment, the competition provided an unparalleled experience for the participants by designing a diverse program over the course of three-days, with significant time designated for feedback and interaction with the judging panel. Highlights of competing:

  • Real-world opportunities to learn what’s required to successfully launch a new business
  • Mentoring from investors and experienced entrepreneurs
  • Networking with potential venture capitalists and other investors for three days
  • High-caliber experienced judges, the majority of whom are senior-level investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders
  • Personalized, individual feedback during three separate sessions as well as on your written business plan before the competition
  • Competition against top-ranked and emerging global student-led startups

The goal of the RBPC is to provide the best overall educational and entrepreneurial experience of any business plan/new venture competition and we were very gratified by the feedback we have received from past competitors and judges.

Eligibility Requirements

Are you eligible to apply to the Rice Business Plan Comepetition? Let’s see!
You are initially eligible if your startup:

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


  • In total, more than $1.3 million in investment, cash and in-kind prizes was awarded to the teams at the 2020 Rice Business Plan Competition. 
  • Prizes offered at the 2021 RBPC are expected to mirror this year’s prizes.

Competition Rules and Format
Important dates:

  • Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 12:30 PM CST – RBPC announces 42 teams to compete via live video, email and phone
  • Monday, March 1, 2021 by 5:00 PM CST – Invited teams confirm commitment to compete via confirmation on application, and last day to last day to withdraw without penalty
  • Deadline TBA – Deadline to submit required documents and media for competition; judge material review and feedback period; final submission of updated materials
  • Save the dates of April 5-9, 2021 for the Rice Business Plan Competition!

Application Deadline: February 8th 2021

For More Information:

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