Every year we get asked by QØ alumni if we know a good high school entrepreneurship competition they could go for.  Now we do! for years we've worked with teams that have competed in the entrepreneurship competitions listed below many of whom have won.

high school entrepreneurship competition

If you already have an startup venture and a team, this list is great for you. 

If you are just getting started and would like some help, check out the QØ essential guide for How to Start a Business in High School

If you need inspiration take a look at some High School Entrepreneurs and some High School Startups to get ideas.

Finally, consider applying to one of the QØ Summer Entrepreneurship Programs to get the full experience of taking an idea from scratch to success along with a team of other peers and industry experts to guide you along the way.

Without further hold up, here's the list, go find the best high school entrepreneurship competition for you!


1. Diamond Challenge

The Diamond Challenge, sponsored by QØ, was created by Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware. It includes an online curriculum that guides students in creating a viable business report and pitch deck. Along with completing these two items, teams must pitch through a virtual portal or at a live event. To register, teams choose between two tracks: Business Concept or Social Innovation. Semifinalists receive the invitation to compete at University of Delaware in the semifinal round. Top finishers receive monetary award in the form of prizes, additional funding to support the team’s venture, or scholarships for higher education. While Diamond Challenge does not enable teams to start their own companies or to meet face-to-face with advisors, they have other opportunities to engage with mentors and speakers, such as at their annual three-day Summit.

Award(s): up to $100K in the form of prize money, scholarships, and/or venture funding

Registration fee: Free

Deadline to register/submit: Jan 5, 2018.

Youth Entrepreneurship Summit: April 11- 13, ticket prices vary

Website: http://diamondchallenge.org/summit/

2. Conrad Spirit of Innovation

Through the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, high school students (in teams of 2-5) create “extraordinary and viable” solutions in one of the following five categories: 1) Aerospace & Aviation, 2) Cyber-Technology and Security, 3) Energy & Environment, 4) Health and Nutrition, and 5) Smoke-Free World. This competition is geared towards more STEM high school innovators. There are three rounds of the competition: the first round consists of a video in which teams pitch their viable solution. Those entering the second round develop and submit a Business Plan for their idea. The chosen finalists will pitch in front of of judges at the Innovation Summit in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. In each category, one team will be awarded the winning “Pete Conrad Scholar” recognition. Note: Each team must have a coach or supervisor 18 years or older; and the registration fee per team is $250.

Award(s): “Pete Conrad Scholar” recognition

Registration fee: $250 per team

Deadline: Early November.

Website: http://www.conradchallenge.org/

3. Innovation NFTE Competitions

NFTE World Series of Innovation consists of several challenges aimed at solving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The challenge categories include: 1) Citi Foundation Decent Work Challenge, 2) The Moody’s Foundation Infrastructure Challenge, 3) Resonance Philanthropies Plastic Waste Challenge, 4) The Coca-Cola Healthy Living Challenge, 5) The Moody’s Foundation Energy Challenge, and 6) Mastercard Financial Access Challenge.

Teams of high school students brainstorm creative solutions and submit a commercial storyboard and script for a 60-second commercial. Judges will then select the top ten submissions in each challenge category, and those teams will have four weeks to physically film their commercial. From the top ten submissions, three category finalists are chosen by judges from the sponsoring organization to enter the final round- a public, online vote contest. The team with the most votes in each category receives the "People's Choice", and other title "Adjudicators' Choice" is bestowed upon another team by the sponsoring organization panel of judges.

Note: The NFTE Competitions helps students become aware of the pillars of sustainability, and also equips them with an online “toolkit” to inspire their creative ideas.  

Award(s): “People’s Choice Award”, “Adjudicator’s Choice Award”

Registration fee: free

Deadline: December 12, 2017

Website: https://innovation.nfte.com/

4. Genius Olympiad

GENIUS Olympiad is an international high school project competition geared towards solving environmental issues. Students can submit projects in five different categories: 1) Science, 2) Visual and Performance Arts (VPA), 3) Business, 4) Writing, and 5) Robotics. Category 3 (Business) and 5 (Robotics) are the most entrepreneurial-like. For Category 3, students write a business plan outlining their entrepreneurial, pro-environmental venture. In the Robotics category, students are presented a Robotics Master Challenge, in which students design a robot that can autonomously place “waste” in the correct “waste collection bins”. Further guidelines for each category’s submissions are provided on the Genius Olympiad website. Participants who become finalists are invited to attend the Genius Olympiad event at SUNY Oswego NY. Genius Olympiad also offers three-day NYC trips, a three-day Ivy League college tour after the finalists Olympiad event, and more.

Award(s): Five tiers of awards are given. Top Grand Gold Award is given the the top winning project in each category. The following four tiers are Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention. Several Special Awards are given as well. One in particular, the Genius Scholarship Certificate, provides up to $10,000 of SUNY Oswego University Scholarship.

Registration fee: $40 per project. Finalists pay a $125 fee to attend the Genius Olympiad event.

Deadline: The application begins December 15, 2017 and end March 1st, 2018.

Website: https://www.geniusolympiad.org/

5. Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition

The Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition is the largest entrepreneurship competition in the United States run by and for high school students. Young high school ambassadors at over 80 high schools in 17 states organize teams of students and compete for thousands in cash prizes. The competition is typically hosted in Johns Hopkins University and Silicon Valley, where teams pitch their innovative business ideas to experienced entrepreneurs and business people, receive feedback on their ideas, and join a community of like-minded students. Some teams even compete virtually for the chance to win thousands in cash prizes. For 2018, Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition will be hosting a nation-wide virtual pitch competition.

Award(s): Blue Ocean Strategy Book, cash prizes

Registration fee: free

Deadline: The pitch competition is around April 1, 2018.

Website: http://blueoceancompetition.org/register/

6. Paradigm Challenge

The Paradigm Challenge is a competition for students age 4-19 (separated into three age divisions) to improve personal health through wellness and healing. In order to participate, students must build a team of any size--no minimum or maximum size is required. After watching a video on the six steps to solving any problem, researching about current efforts to improve personal health, and forming their own ideas, students create and submit presentations on solutions for improving personal health. All ideas are welcome, including posters, videos, inventions, websites, public messages, mobile apps, community events, etc. Project Paradigm will select the top 100 entries (“Finalists”); from this cohort of finalists, judges from Paradigm’s sponsors chose the first, second, and third place winners in each age division. Winning students receive up to $100,000 in student prizes, and up to four team members in each age division’s top entry receive a 4-day trip to Los Angeles to attend the Paradigm Challenge Prize Ceremony.

Award(s): Up to $100,000 total in student prizes; a 4-day trip to L.A.

Registration fee: None

Deadline: May 1, 2018

Website: http://www.projectparadigm.org/

Good Luck, and if you need inspiration for an idea or tools to start you own startup you can check out the rest of the QØ website

If you think your competition should be included, please send us an email at info@quarterzero.com