Compete CNY

Pitch in Compete CNY, a regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition.


New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC)

Since 2010, more than 4,000 students have participated in the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC), coordinated by The Upstate Capital Association of New York. The NYBPC has seeded over $1M, yielding more than $20M in additional funding for more than 150 student-led ventures started. These startups are launched by the best and brightest college students studying at New York State colleges and universities—like you!

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. Compete CNY is the Central New York regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition.

Applicants select from six tracks in which to compete. To compete in the regional qualifiers, such as Compete CNY, supply basic team information, executive summary, and pitch presentation. Cash prizes are awarded at the NYBPC finals in Albany, NY.

On this page, find information about application dates, CNY region schools, student eligibility, submission requirements and samples for Compete CNY and NYBPC, plus judging and prizes.

Application Dates and Timeline

February 2021: Applications are not yet open for Compete CNY regional qualifier for the 2021 New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC). The competition rulebook will also be available with further information.

Teams will be selected to participate in the Compete CNY event on a first-come basis. Due to time constraints, teams will send pitch decks in advance of the regional competition date.

Note that students apply to compete in the semifinal regional competition based on the location of their school, listed below.

March 2021: Applications to Compete CNY on the NYBPC website are due.

March 2021: The Compete CNY regional qualifier competition is held at Syracuse University in the Bird Library, located at 222 Waverly Avenue, Syracuse.

April —May 2021: NYBPC statewide competition is held in Albany, NY. Up to 12 teams will be selected at Compete CNY to move on to this statewide competition.

Kate Beckman of FreshU speaking at New York Business Plan Competition.

Compete CNY: Central New York regional qualifier for NYBPC

Compete CNY is coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University. For the past 10 years, it has run concurrently with the Syracuse University RvD iPrize, sponsored by the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool).

Any full-time or part-time undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in an accredited college or university in the CNY region (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties) is eligable.

The top two teams from each track will be selected by a panel of independent judges to move on to the statewide finals in Albany, NY for generous NYBPC prize packages.

While cash prizes are awarded at the NYBPC finals in Albany, there are no cash awards for the Compete CNY event. Syracuse University students may be eligible for RvD iPrize awards funded through an endowment at the iSchool specifically designated for that stand-alone competition.

CNY Participating Schools

Students apply to compete in the semifinal regional competition based on location of school, including:

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

Don't see your school on the list but are located in the CNY region? For more information, email us at  LaunchPad@syr.edu.

Students work on their business plan for competition in the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars.
Matt Shumer of Visos works on his business plan for competition in the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars.
  • Application Steps
  • Eligibility
  • Materials
  • Judging
  • Prizes

Application Requirements

  1. Applicants can select from six tracks, including both for-profit and non-profit ventures:

    • AgTech & Food: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to agriculture, food production or distribution;
    • Energy & Environment: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to energy, clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental, and/or sustainability applications;
    • Military & First Responder: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to the needs of utility workers, military, first responders, government applications or transportation industry;
    • MedTech & Wellbeing: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to biotech, sports, medical care or well-being, including mental health;
    • Consumer Products & Services: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services, not included in any previous category, generally intended for use by individuals or households;
    • Technology & Entertainment: Ideas, technologies, processes, products, and services that relate to consumer software and online platforms, cryptocurrency, entertainment, fintech, or music.
  2. Supply basic team information.

  3. Provide an executive summary.

  4. Prepare a pitch presentation for the regional qualifier, as well as the statewide finals. 

  5. Submit your application on the NYBPC website, and select the competition page. Look for the link that says "Apply Now," and be sure to select Central New York as the region.

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

Eligibility Requirements

  • Any full-time or part-time undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in an accredited college or university in the CNY region (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties) is eligable.
  • Students who were enrolled during the academic calendar year, including those who graduate in December or another month, are eligible to compete.
  • Teams with students from multiple institutions are allowed and encouraged, as long as the teams:
    • are composed entirely of students from accredited New York State colleges and universities, and;
    • these students are enrolled during the current academic year.
  • Teams with students from multiple regions may only apply to and participate in one regional qualifying competition.
  • A student may only participate on one team per competition year.
  • The venture must be at least 80% owned by students.
  • Student teams are eligible to compete as long as they have not raised more than $100,000 in cumulative public and private capital, including other business plan competitions and grants.
  • Ventures may be based in other states, though preference is given to ventures in New York State.
  • The venture does not need to be incorporated to compete, but it does need to be incorporated to receive NYBPC prize money.
  • Previous Grand Prize winners are not eligible to compete again.

Materials Formatting

Information on application materials formatting and inclusions.

Application Materials:

  • Only PowerPoint or PDF formats are allowed.
  • Pitch decks must be pre-submitted; we will request this information from you.
  • Pitches on flash drives or stored on cloud services will not be accommodated. Embedded videos are not recommended.

Samples Materials provided by NYBPC:

Confidentiality:

  • Judges and participants do not sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements. Entrepreneurs should pitch their business concepts without disclosing confidential or proprietary information.
  • Teams should not include any confidential or proprietary information in their applications or presentations.

Judging

Information on judges, presentation time with judges, and qualifiers.

  • 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.
  • For Compete CNY, the format will be a six-minute pitch with three minutes of Q&A.
  • At the state level, each team will have 10 minutes to pitch followed by five minutes of Q&A.
  • Note that pitch time varies across the state at regional competitions, depending on the number of entrants.
  • Maximum of two teams from each of the six tracks, selected at the 10 regional semifinal competitions, will be invited to the statewide finals in Albany.
  • There will be up to 120 teams participating in the statewide final competition, with a maximum of 20 teams in each track.

Judging Criteria

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.

Prizes

  • Prizes distributed through the Business Plan Competition vary each year based on sponsorships, but the overall prize pool is generally between $60,000 to $100,000, distributed to prize winners across all six tracks.
  • Prizes are non-dilutive cash awards (taxable income), and are intended to help jumpstart student business ventures.
  • Teams that win the Grand Prize or First Place prize in any of the six tracks 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.

Breakdown of previous NYBPC awards:

The following are the general past levels of cash prizes, however there may be changes based on sponsorships raised by NYBPC, and decisions made by the NYBPC steering committee.

  • $10,000 cash – First Place teams (1 team per track)
  • $2,500 cash – Second Place teams (1 team per track)
  • $1,000 cash – Third Place teams (1 team per track)
  • $2,000 cash – MWBE Awards (1 team per track) *Woman and Minority Business Enterprise.
  • $500 cash – Concept Stage Award (1 team per track)

Email us to learn more about Compete CNY at LaunchPad@syr.edu. You can also explore NYBPC at nybpc.org.