2016 Rice University Business Plan Competition ($USD 1,500,000 in cash & in-kind prizes)

Application Deadline: 5 p.m. CST Feb. 19. 2016

Applications have opened for the 16th annual Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business April 14-16.

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.

This is the 16th 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.

Forty-two teams from the world’s top universities will be selected from the applicants to vie for more than $1.5 million in prizes in the RBPC, which in November was named the No. 1 business plan competition for offering “serious cash” by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.



  • Graduate students with a business plan for a new startup company are encouraged to apply to compete.

Student Enrollment:

  • The competition is for students currently enrolled on a full- or part-time basis (i.e., from July 2015 through June 2016). This includes students who graduated, or will graduate in August through December 2015. Students who graduated before July 2015 are not eligible to participate.

Team Size:

  • The presenting (competing) team should include at least two current students and not exceed five current students. (At least two students must travel to Houston to compete and both must participate in the oral presentation of the business plan).
  • Others involved in the venture (non-students) are welcome to travel to Rice with the competing student team, but are prohibited from participating in the presentations or Q&A sessions.

Team Composition:

This is a competition for graduate students, and at least one currently enrolled graduate student must be a member of the venture’s startup management team, and must be part of the team that presents in the competition (competing team).

A team with some undergraduates will be allowed to compete, and the undergraduates may participate fully.

All graduate students, not just MBA candidates, are eligible to participate in the competition. This includes executive MBAs, MD candidates, JD candidates, other Masters Candidates, and PhD Candidates. Students in Certificate programs or other non-degree programs including Postdocs are excluded.

Outside Funding:

All ventures must be seeking outside equity capital, typically early stage venture investment or early stage angel investment. All ventures must be “for profit” entities.

Student Involvement:

The competition is for student-created and -managed ventures, including new ventures launched by licensing university technology.

Students are expected to:

(1) be the driving force behind the new venture,

(2) have played the primary role in developing the business plan,

(3) have key management roles in the venture, and

(4) own significant equity in the venture.


  • Students will need to submit a three-page executive summary and one-minute video pitch through the competition’s website.


  • More than 750 teams are expected to apply to compete in four categories: life sciences; information technology/Web/mobile; energy/clean technology; and tech innovation.
  • A cohort of more than 300 judges will select the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.


Cisco Prizes

  • Three Cisco Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Challenge prizes.
  • The three cash prizes will be awarded in the amounts of $100,000, $25,000 and $10,000.
  • The Cisco IoE Innovation Challenge aims to recognize entrepreneurs that promote and accelerate the adoption of breakthrough technologies, products and services that capture the value of IoE to benefit society.
  • Cisco seeks to empower a generation of global problem-solvers that are advancing the evolution of IoE especially in the areas of connectivity, health care, the environment, critical human needs, education, connected/smart solutions (for example, smart home, smart city, smart energy, connected transportation and wearables), big data, analytics and cloud computing.
  • Special consideration will be given to businesses that capture this value while simultaneously benefiting society and the environment.

Other Prizes:

  • $300,000 Investment Grand Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas, the OWL Investment Prize, which totaled $285,000 in 2015, and
  • The $50,000 U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Prize.
  • There will also be specific prizes for the best women’s health innovation, top energy team, top IT team and top team led by women.
  • The 2016 grand prizewinner will ring the closing bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Rice Business Plan Competition 2016


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