Student entrepreneurs from across North America will converge in Northwest Arkansas this spring as the Heartland Challenge Startup Competition returns with an in-person event with a $100,000 prize pool.
Designed to simulate the process of raising venture capital for high-growth companies, the Heartland Challenge has awarded more than $350,000 since it first took place virtually in Spring 2020.
Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM on February 10th. Twelve semifinalists will be selected for the final round in downtown Bentonville, April 13-15.
Overall winner will win $50,000. The second-place team will receive $25,000. 3rd place, $10,000. 4th place is $5,000.
The first and second place winners of the Elevator Pitch Competition, determined by audience votes, will win $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.
“We are thrilled to host the Heartland Challenge in Bentonville again this year,” said Deb Williams, senior director of operations and student programs for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Office.
“This competition exposes founders from around the world to Northwest Arkansas’ burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem and helps them gain valuable connections and experience as they develop and build their ventures. .”
The competition is again sponsored by the Sam M. Walton College of Business and overseen by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with generous support from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. Early sponsorships secured for the 2023 Games include WhyteSpyder, ArcBest, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, ECHO Innovation Alliance, and NewRoad Capital Partners.
Now in its second year, the Startup Expo will host a public showcase of competitors. The free event at Bentonville will include appetizers and beverages, and will conclude with audience votes for their favorite startups. The winner will get him $5,000.
Past winners have included technology startups focused on improving cancer detection and a recycling-based building materials company focused on the music industry.
Aurign, a music publishing startup from Georgia State University, took first place in 2020, winning $50,000 for its idea of using blockchain technology to securely store music publishing documents.
NurLabs, a graduate student startup team at the University of California, Los Angeles, won the 2021 Heartland Challenge. The team that developed a patent-pending, non-traditional, non-invasive liquid biopsy platform for early cancer detection used the prize money to expand the scale and scope of lung cancer research.
Last year’s winner, KLAW Industries, used the prize money to purchase a tractor-trailer to transport their products. Founded by students at Binghamton University, KLAW processes glass from landfills into a powdered cement substitute called Pantheon, which it sells to ready-mixed concrete plants. The new mix yields concrete with high compressive strength and low carbon footprint.
KLAW Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Jacob Kampong said the Heartland Challenge was a memorable and innovative experience for his company.
“Winning the Heartland Challenge gave KLAW Industries the connections, experience and funding to get their first customers to the next level,” said Kumpon.
He added that his visit to Bentonville was “amazing” and praised the overall experience of the convention.
“I think it’s probably one of the best competitions that encourages teams to get out there and build relationships that last a lifetime.”
About the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation:The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for students of all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village, and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI offers free workshops and programs for social and corporate innovation design teams, venture internships, competitions, startup coaching, and more. increase. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Economic Development Department, his OEI also provides on-demand support to students who become innovators within existing organizations and entrepreneurs starting something new.