The Startup Challenge is a competition for Penn student-founded new ventures. The very best Penn student entrepreneurs pitch to a live audience and alumni judges to show their startups are ready to become the next big thing!
2023 Startup Challenge Finalists
Teams consist of students from The Wharton School, The School of Engineering and Applied Science, and The School of Social Policy & Practice.
Past Competitors & Winners
2023 Startup Challenge Agenda
2022 Venture Lab Startup Challenge Photo Highlights
Stay tuned for our photo & video recap of this year's Startup Challenge...
2021 Venture Lab Startup Challenge: Elevator Pitches
Interviewees: Nouri, Xoma, Fulton, 3CorBio, and Altrui Rx
Startup Challenge FAQs
You can audit an individual class on Coursera without subscribing or starting a free trial. After creating a Coursera account, search for the course you want to audit (ex. “Entrepreneurship 1: Developing the Opportunity”). Select that course, select Enroll, and then select “Audit the course” at the bottom of the enrollment page.
Businesses that have received more than $150k in institutional funding are not eligible unless the funding was received while the Team Leader/team members were concurrently active students at the University of Pennsylvania.
- For example, a student who takes a leave of absence after junior year, raises over $150K in institutional funding while on leave, and then returns for senior year, is not eligible to enter that venture in the Startup Challenge. A student who raises over $150K in funding over the summer between the 1st and 2nd year of the MBA program is eligible to enter that venture in the Startup Challenge.
Teams who use a team member to circumvent this criteria will not be eligible to participate.
Institutional funding includes any funding from angel investors, VCs, and/or accelerator/incubator programs.
- A venture does not have to be incorporated to be eligible for entry. However, winners of the Startup Challenge will have the option to have the award paid to the company, and to do so, the company must be incorporated and have an EIN. It can take several weeks to several months to incorporate and receive an EIN, so it is recommended that you begin the process well in advance. Failure to do so may result in requiring the award to be paid to an individual, depending on the timing related to the end of the University's fiscal year, which could have varying tax implications, depending on the team leader’s citizenship status.
- Non-profit ventures are eligible.
Please note that the Startup Challenge is open to the public, including members of the media/press. It is the responsibility of the team members invited to participate in the Startup Challenge to keep confidential information confidential and to maintain the confidentiality of their own intellectual property.
Before being sent to the judges, all applications will be screened by Venture Lab faculty and staff. Applications that are incomplete, do not adequately provide the required information, or are too early to answer the application questions will not be sent to the judges for review. The decision of Venture Lab is final. You can see the required application materials here.
This year the Summer Venture Awards are being added to the Startup Challenge. The Summer Venture Awards are intended to assist students financially over the summer in lieu of full-time internships so that they can focus on developing their entrepreneurial ventures. University of Pennsylvania undergraduate rising seniors and rising 2nd year Wharton MBAs are eligible to receive these awards. Penn graduate students who will be returning to Penn for at least one more semester are also eligible to apply.
An existing business is only eligible if, before the start of the current academic year, it has received less than $100,000 in institutional funding. Institutional funding includes any funding from angel investors, VCs (any stage, including seed), and/or accelerator/incubator programs. Winners are required to work on their ventures full-time over the summer.