The Top 6 High School Entrepreneurship Competitions for 2019

Applying to an entrepreneurship competition is a great way to build credibility and get funding. Already have a startup venture and team? Keep reading.

If you’re just getting started, check out our essential guide on How to Start a Business in High School. Get inspired by checking out some profiles of other high school entrepreneurs.

Or consider applying to one of the QØ Summer Entrepreneurship Programs to get the full experience of taking a business idea from concept to success along with a team of peers and industry experts.

Without further ado, read on to see this year’s list of the top high school entrepreneurship competitions.

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 through creating a viable business plan 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 the annual three-day Summit.

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

Registration fee: Free

Registration opens: August 31, 2018

Deadline to submit: December 30, 2018.

Youth Entrepreneurship Summit: April 11-13, 2019 – Ticket prices vary


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 STEM high school innovators. There are three rounds of the competition: Round 1 consists of a video in which teams pitch their solution. In Round 2, teams 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.

Award(s): “Pete Conrad Scholar” recognition, scholarships, and discounted access to professional services for entrepreneurs

Registration fee: $300 per team

Deadline for Round 1: November 2, 2018

Conrad Innovation Summit: April 23-26, 2019 – Fee is $399 per person


3. NFTE World Series of Innovation

The NFTE World Series of Innovation consists of several challenges aimed at solving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The NTFE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) challenge categories include: 1) Citi Foundation Decent Work Challenge, 2) Coca-Cola/VEB Responsible Consumption Challenge, 3) Con Edison Sustainable Development Challenge, and 6) NFTE Gender Equality 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, prize money up to $2,100

Registration fee: Free

Deadline: April 24, 2019


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. For the Business category competition, students write a business plan outlining their entrepreneurial, pro-environmental venture. In the Robotics category, students are presented with a Robotics Master Challenge, in which students design a robot that can autonomously perform firefighting and rescue tasks. 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. Note: Participants under 18 must attend the GENIUS Olympiad with an adult supervisor or guardian.

Award(s): Five tiers of awards are given. Top Grand Gold Award is given the the top winning project in each category. 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: $50 per project. Finalists pay a $160 participation fee to attend the Genius Olympiad event (adult supervisor must also pay fee.)

Deadlines: March 3, 2019


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 stude
nts. Young high school ambassadors at over 80 high schools in 17 states organize teams of students and compete for thousands in cash prizes for their schools.

Award(s): Cash prizes

Registration fee: Free

Deadline: Pitches must be submitted by December 31, 2018


6. Paradigm Challenge

The Paradigm Challenge is a competition for students ages 4-19 (separated into three age divisions). In order to participate, students must build a team of any size–no minimum or maximum size is required. Students compete in challenges in four different categories: Home Fires, Waste Reduction, Personal Health, and Food Security. 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: Free

Deadline: May 1, 2019