Funding Opportunities

Funding Opportunities for Student Founders: December 2020

3 minutes

We're in the home stretch of one absolutely wild year.

It can be easy to lose your focus with so much going on in the sprint between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but take note of these HUGE student grant funding opportunities that are now live.

While some aren't due until January or beyond, this is a great time to grab your favorite hot beverage, curl up with your laptop, and get a head start on a potentially game-changing grant for your venture.

Check out our Top 5 open opportunities below!

1) Hult Prize 2021 Challenge: Food for Good

Eligibility: Any venture in the sustainable food space
Prize Money: Over $1 million as a grand prize! (seriously)
Deadline: December 17th, 2020
>> Application Link <<

The Hult Prize Foundation transforms how young people envision their own possibilities as leaders of change in the world around them. With a US$1,000,000 global startup prize as its anchor activity, the Hult Prize has brought impact-focused programs, events and trainings to over a million students globally, creating a pathway for youth everywhere to take action to build a better world.

Food is the ultimate equalizer. Yet increasingly over recent decades, food systems have become machines of extraction that reduce our well-being, weaken communities, and impoverish the world around us. Store aisles are filled with arsenals of cheap, addictive products that attack the soul through the hollowness of manufactured consumption. Parents wage a daily battle to nourish and nurture their children, while food supply chains funnel massive profits to corporations and billionaires.

In 2021 the Hult Prize is asking youth around the world to build viable food enterprises that will create jobs, stimulate economies, reimagine supply chains, and improve outcomes for 10,000,000 people by 2030.

Check out the Hult Prize 2021 Challenge Packet

2) Rice Business Plan Competition

Eligibility: Any graduate student-led venture (don't have to be a Rice student)
Prize Money: More than $1.1 million in investment + cash prizes (exact prize structure has not been released for 2021 yet)
Deadline: January 17, 2021
>> Application Link <<

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. There are various tracks such as Energy/Sustainability, Hard Tech, Life Sciences, Digital Enterprise, and Consumer Products so you'll have a chance to stand out no matter what your industry is.

So shoot your shot in the Rice BPC today! Secure a slice of that million dollar prize pool.

Learn more about the Rice BPC right here.

3) MIT Water Innovation Prize

Eligibility: The team lead + presenter must be an enrolled university student (at any university, not just MIT)
Prize Money: Winners will be awarded innovation grants of up to $35,000
Deadline: January 10th, 2021 @ 11:59 pm
>>Application Link<<

The MIT Water Innovation Prize is a startup competition focused on water innovation that awards up to $35K in innovation grants annually to student-led teams from across the country and internationally. The Prize started in 2015 and has since awarded $100K to 12 teams.

The entry must involve a technology, product, service, or process aimed at solving a problem related to the world’s water challenges. The water space has numerous opportunities and challenges to solve related to policy, technology, data sensing, analytics, implementation, financing, end-to-end solutions, etc.

A Note Regarding IP
Entering teams must be prepared to provide documentation to validate any claims that are made concerning the intellectual property underlying their business plans, including any claims concerning the licensing of Third-Party IP. Entries should be made with the full understanding of MIT’s regulations on Intellectual Property Rights.

4) ClimateTech & Energy Prize @ MIT (CEP@MIT)

Eligibility: At least 50% of your formal team members must be enrolled college/university students (at any university, not just MIT)
Prize Money: $100,000 Grand Prize* (along with other monetary prizes/tracks)
Deadline: February 5, 2021
>>Application Link<<

The ClimateTech & Energy Prize at MIT (CEP@MIT) is the longest running and largest climatetech startup competition for university students. Over the past 12 years, 100+ CEP alumni have successfully launched companies and collectively raised over $1.1 billion in follow-on funding.

The CEP@MIT is structured to identify promising companies and mentor student entrepreneurs. University teams from across the world enter their business ideas and compete in 3 rounds. After initial applications, CEP@MIT judges select the most promising business plans to advance as Semi-Finalists. They then receive mentoring and access to other resources through CEP@MIT sponsors and partners. During this time, the selected teams develop and refine their business plans before presenting them to a panel of expert judges at the CEP@MIT Semi-Finals and Finals.

Learn more about the Eligibility & Requirements and Apply Here.

5) Tulane Business Model Competition

Eligibility: Any active student-led startup
Prize Money: $125,000 prize pool
Deadline: January 25th, 2021
>>Application Link<< - doesn't formally open until December 7th

Hosted by the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business, this student startup competition is open to teams that include at least one degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate student from any college or university.

The Tulane Business Model Competition seeks early-stage ventures that can demonstrate how they are adapting to their customers’ needs. The contest rewards those that are creating commercially viable ventures through breaking down an idea into a key business model hypothesis, have tested their assumptions with customers and have applied Customer Development/Lean Startup principles to refine the model for improved success.

Learn more about the Eligibility & Requirements

The Interactive Funding Database

Those are the Top 5 for December. Below are all of the rest of the open opportunities, along with eligibility, funding amounts, deadlines, and more. I recommend you click View Larger Version in the bottom right hand corner and use the filter features to sort through and find the ones relevant to you. This database will be updated monthly - in tandem with these blog posts - so feel free to bookmark and keep coming back.

Kevin Carter

Entrepreneurial Coach

Kevin Carter is an entrepreneurial coach and ecosystem builder. He previously worked for 3 years to build out Johns Hopkins University's first student entrepreneurship program and is currently the co-founder of Emergence Baltimore - a live-in accelerator program designed for founders who build community and ventures during COVID-19.