Apply to Compete CNY, the regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC)

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Applications are now open through March 15 to graduate and undergraduate students from across Central New York colleges and universities for Compete CNY, the regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC). Top regional teams will be selected to compete at the state level for over $30,000 in prize money and post-program mentorship available through NYBPC.

Compete CNY is the regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC), hosted at Syracuse University on March 26, 2021 by the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at Syracuse University. It is open to any full-time or part-time undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in an accredited college or university in the Central New York Region (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego Counties). Top teams will be selected at the Compete CNY regional qualifier to move on to the statewide competition which is coordinated by The Upstate Capital Foundation and The Upstate Capital Association of New York.

Interested students should apply to compete in the semifinal regional competition based on the location of their school.  The application, along with the competition rulebook, is available on the NYBPC website.   

Key dates and application links are below.

  • Applications new open. Apply here for the NYBPC website and also here for the Compete CNY regional qualifier.
  • Workshops and mentorship schedule here.
    • March 4: Competition Overview for Regionals and Finals
    • April 8: NYS Entrepreneurship Resources
    • May 6: Investment
    • June 3: Team Building + Diversity + Boards + HR
  • March 4:  Workshop by Upstate Capital Foundation. Sign up here.
  • March 15:  Applications to Compete CNY regional round close. Apply here for the Compete CNY regional qualifier. Students should also register their intent to compete on the NYBPC website portal here and be sure to select Central New York as their region..
  • March 26:  Compete CNY regional qualifier. (Virtual event hosted by Syracuse University
  • April 25:  Finals videos and slide decks due for student teams moving on to the NYBPC
  • April 28-Monday May 3:  Finals NYBPC judge review
  • May 4:  Judge deliberation calls and top 3 NYBPC teams/track notified
  • May 5:  Special prize decisions made by prize sponsors
  • Friday May 7:  NYBPC finals and award announcements
    • 9-11 a.m. – “Track rooms” – Top 3 teams pitch “live” for judging panel with live Q&A
    • 11 a.m. -11:30 a.m. – Judge deliberation – track winners determined
    • 12 -1 p.m. – Grand Prize deliberation
    • 4 p.m. – Finals event and award announcements

The six competition tracks this year will be:

  • Ag Tech & Food
  • Infrastructure, First Responder & Defense
  • Med Tech & Life Sciences
  • Education & Well Being
  • Consumer & Business Products
  • Software & Services

In addition to the grand prize, special awards will be given in the following categories:

  • Venture backable
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Female Founder
  • Veteran Founder
  • COVID-19 Response

The on-line Compete CNY application is here.

The on-line NYBPC student application is here.

The 2021 rulebook is here.

Get full competition details here.

About the New York Business Plan Competition:

Since 2010, more than 4,000 students have participated in the NYBPC, with more than 150 student-led ventures started.  The NYBPC provides opportunities for students enrolled in colleges and universities across New York to gain entrepreneurial skills and compete on their ingenuity, first on campus, then in the region, and for top teams, the statewide finals. The program has created over $150M+ economic impact including follow-on funding for 100+ startups. The competition starts with students competing in all 10 regions across the state and culminates with finalists from each region competing at the state level for recognition and prize money.

This year, applicants will tag their ventures by categories, supply basic team information and an executive summary to NYBPC in order to compete in the regional qualifiers.  They will also need to prepare a pitch presentation for the regional qualifier, as well as the statewide finals if they are selected to move on.  Here are some samples provided by NYBPC:

Note:  All regions use the same NYBPC application, so it is imperative that student teams correctly select CNY as their region of competition.  

About Compete CNY, the regional qualifier for NYBPC:

The Central New York regional qualifier is open to students from: 

  • Cazenovia College
  • Cayuga Community College
  • Colgate University
  • LeMoyne College
  • Onondaga Community College
  • SUNY Cortland
  • SUNY Morrisville
  • SUNY Oswego
  • SUNY Upstate Medical University
  • Syracuse University
  • Wells College

NYBPC & Compete CNY FAQ:

Q:  Where can teams find more details on the application, guidelines and official rulebook?

A:  Please refer to the NYBPC website to find the most current information: 

Q: Where do teams submit applications for the CNY regional competition?

A: Go to the NYBPC website and select the competition page.  Look for the link that says “Apply” and be sure to select Central New York as the region.

Q: Can students form teams with students from other schools?

A: Yes.  Multiple-institution teams are allowed and encouraged, as long as the teams are made up entirely of students from accredited New York State colleges and universities, and the students are enrolled during the current academic year.

Q: If teams are working with students from institutions in various regions, can they apply in multiple regions?

A: No.  Teams with students from multiple regions may only apply to and participate in one region.  Select the most appropriate region on the NYBPC website, typically depending on where the team leaders are studying. 

Q: Can someone pitch who is not a student?

A: No.  Student(s) must be the presenter(s) in all stages of the competition.  Additionally, the business venture must be at least 80% owned by students

Q: Can students participate on more than one team?

A: No. students may not participate on more than one team each year of the competition.

Q:  Can student teams compete if they have already raised funds or won other competitions?

A: Yes.  Student teams are eligible to compete in the NYBPC as long as they have not raised more than $100,000 dollars in cumulative public and private capital, including other business plan competitions and grant funding.

Q:  Are students who graduated in December eligible to compete in the spring program?

A: Yes.  Students who are currently enrolled or were enrolled during the academic calendar year, including those who graduate in December or another month, are eligible to compete in the NYBPC.

Q: Are part-time students allowed to participate in the program?

A: Yes.  Part-time students are allowed to participate as long as they are currently enrolled or were enrolled during the academic calendar year.

Q: Does a business need to be incorporated to compete?

A:  It does not need to be incorporated to compete, but it does need to be incorporated (DBA, LLC, etc.) to receive NYBPC prize money.

Q:  What is the timing and format of the pitches?

A:  For Compete CNY, the format will be a five-minute pitch with four minutes of Q&A. Only PowerPoint or PDF formats allowed, and pitch decks must be pre-submitted for Compete CNY.

Q.  Who competes in NYBPC? 

A. Teams selected at regional qualifiers from the 10 Regional Economic Development Council regions in NYS.  These include:  Capital Region, Central New York, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes, Western New York, Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island.

Q:  Who are the judges?

Compete CNY judges are regional business and civic leaders.  NYBPC finals judges are distinguished entrepreneurs, investors, professional service providers and other engaged in New York State’s innovation ecosystem.

Q:  What are the judging criteria?

A:  Judging criteria for Compete CNY and NYBPC are similar. Judges are asked to evaluate companies according to the following criteria:

  • Market Opportunity: Clear market need and a plan to take advantage of the need.
  • Competitive Advantage: The product or service is something unique that has a protectable competitive advantage in the proposed market.
  • Management Capability: The team has the skills and experience to develop this venture and address the associated risks.
  • Financial Understanding: The team has a solid understanding of the financial requirements of the venture.
  • Roadmap/Growth Strategy: The team has engaged in short and long-term planning and has considered strategies for growth.
  • Sustainable Business Model: The team understands and can communicate their core business model. They have a strategy for developing a sustainable venture.

Q: What is the NYBPC prize package and how do winning teams claim NYBPC prize money?

A: The prizes distributed through the Business Plan Competition vary each year based on sponsorships and the allocation formula determined by the NYBPC steering committee. The prizes are non-dilutive cash awards (taxable income) and are intended to help jumpstart student business ventures. Teams must meet requirements to be eligible to claim cash prizes. Previous Grand Prize winners are not eligible to compete again.  Winning teams will work with NYBPC organizers to develop and achieve milestones in order to receive the full cash prize. Actual prize amounts are not set by NYBPC until shortly before the event, based on sponsorships.

Learn more about NYBPC: