Skip links

LaunchTN Statewide University Venture Challenge

Launch Tennessee is pleased to announce the launch of the Statewide University Venture Challenge. We have selected 17 entrepreneurial focused competitions which are being hosted by ten Tennessee-based universities

The goal of the statewide Venture Challenge is to create a more connected entrepreneurial community by engaging existing university programs. Additionally, we hope to increase the amount of student-led entrepreneurial ventures and create an environment enabling them for success.

Partner Schools & Competitions

LaunchTN is inviting companies that have placed in each of the partner competitions to apply for the Statewide Venture Challenge. These winners could have placed in competitions from the past two school years (2014/2015 and 2015/2016 school years).

Eligibility Guidelines

  • The lead from each applicant/company must have placed in one of the approved University competitions between 2014-2015 school years (the past two years of competition).  
  • Teams must be comprised of 2+ people.
  • Ventures with revenues (excluding SBIR/STTR grants) that exceeded $50,000 in the prior 12 months are excluded, as are ventures that have raised equity capital in excess of $50,000 from sources other than the founders or their friends and families.
  • Companies entering the Statewide Venture Challenge are encouraged, but not required, to be established as a legal entity. Winners will have 60 days following notification of their award to establish a legal entity, in order to receive their cash prize. If companies are not eligible to claim their prize within 60 days, they will forfeit their winnings to the runner-up.
  • The judges will be critically evaluating not just the proposed product or service, but also the capabilities of the team to execute on the business model.

Prizes: A winner will be selected in each of the four categories listed below with a prize at the dollar amount indicated. Applicants will be responsible for selecting in which category they would like to compete and can reach out to their on-campus competition liaison or LaunchTN with any questions.

  • Commercializable Technology: A company with a product or business concept surrounding a technology that was licensed or is under option to license out of a research institute from across the state. ($12,500)
  • Lifestyle Business: A company that is not immediately focused on creating a high growth business but one that could be a staple within the community. ($12,500)
  • Social Enterprise: A company that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders. ($12,500)
  • Tech Enabled: A company that enables more efficiency within a process or industry. This would exclude technology that was licensed from a research institute. ($12,500)

Accelerator Stipend: The four winners will be eligible to receive an additional $5,000 if they apply, are accepted to and participate in one of the statewide accelerator programs. Teams must notify LaunchTN once they are accepted and agree to participate.

  • All teams are encouraged to apply to one of the statewide accelerator programs that run throughout the year. Each of the Statewide Venture Challenge winners selected will be eligible for an additional $5,000 stipend to help cover living expenses if they are accepted into an accelerator program within one year of winning. Winners must apply independently and notify LaunchTN if they are accepted and plan to participate. Click here to learn more about TN’s accelerator programs.

36|86 Ticket: All participants will receive a 50% ticket discount to attend the 36|86 conference in June. Students must register with a university email address and present a student ID at the conference. The four category winners will receive a free ticket and travel stipend to attend the conference where they will be recognized at the conference.   


  • 1. All eligible teams (those that have placed or received an award in one of the approved University Competitions in the 2014 and 2015 school year) will be invited to submit an electronic application.
  • 2. Applications will be reviewed and scored by a panel of judges comprised of LaunchTN staff, investors and seasoned entrepreneurs.
  • 3. After scoring is completed, LaunchTN will compile scores and schedule phone interviews with the top 2-4 teams from each category.
  • 4. LaunchTN will compile scores from the interviews and electronic application process to select winners in each category. Each category will have a 1st and 2nd place winner. The 1st place winner will forfeit their spot to the 2nd place winner if they do not meet the requirements to claim their prize within 60 days of the announcement.
Return to top of page