This event helps student startups take their ideas to the next level by offering workshops, mentoring, and the opportunity to win funding and prizes

Cozad New Venture Challenge

Registration Deadline: Mon., Feb. 3, 2020

Registration Coming Soon


About Cozad

Have a startup idea? Want to launch a company? Take the Cozad New Venture Challenge to accelerate your idea with funding, mentoring and more.

The Cozad New Venture Challenge encourages students to innovate and create new businesses. In its 20th year, Cozad has seen 1200+ teams, 2000+ students, and awarded nearly $2 million in cash and in-kind prizes to its legacy of participating teams! 

Teams are invited to create a venture around an idea of their choice. The workshops, assignments, mentorship, and events guide teams through the startup process, and help teams answer questions like:

  • We have an idea - now what?
  • What value are we delivering, and to whom?
  • Is there a viable business model for delivering this value?
  • Is there an appropriate return on investment for the project?
  • How do I identify the right market for our venture?
  • Is our product even solving the right problem?

All teams who submit an Intent to Compete Form, as well as submit all mandatory deliverables and meet all attendance requirements, have the opportunity to compete in the finals event in the spring. Judging rounds leading up to the Finals day do not eliminate teams from the competition. Failure to meet the requirements of the competition will result in removal from the competition. 

Teams who make it to the finals round of competition will have the opportunity to meet with venture capitalists, early-stage investors and successful entrepreneurs who will serve as judges. The judges will determine finalists teams that will present their ventures at the finals event in the afternoon. In 2019, nearly 60 teams competed for over $250,000 in funding and in-kind prizes. Learn about who won the $25,000 Grand Prize, and dozens of other prizes here!

The Cozad New Venture Challenge is open to all currently enrolled, degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois), regardless of department or major.  Teams must be comprised of at least 50% students of any educational institution, at least 2/3 of whom must be students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (at least 33% of the founding team must consist of students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Non-students may be members of the management team and participate in planning the venture, but only students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may present the venture and answer questions from the judges in all rounds and must be present in-person.

2018-19 Cozad Rule Book

Click image below to view or download a pdf of the Cozad Rule Book.










2019 Award Details

Click image below to view or download a pdf of the entire list of 2019 Prizes!

We offer additional mentoring (from alumni and community) for teams throughout the competition.

Technology Entrepreneur Center

The Grainger College of Engineering

351 Coordinated Science Lab, MC-228
1308 W. Main Street
Urbana, IL 61801

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