New York Business Plan Competition

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Frequently Asked Questions

Webinars and in-person information sessions for the 2016 New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) will be held virtually and across the state in the spring semester for those interested in learning more about the program.

Q: If I graduate in December 2015, am I eligible to compete in the program?
A: Yes – students that are currently enrolled or were enrolled during the 2015-2016 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?
Yes – part-time students are allowed to participate as long as they are currently enrolled or were enrolled during the 2015-2016 academic calendar year.

Q: Can I have someone on my team who isn’t currently a student?
A: No – all members of competing teams must be consisted entirely of undergraduate or graduate students enrolled during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Q: I go to a community college, can I still participate?
A: Yes – the NYBPC is open to any student attending an accredited college or university in New York.

Q: Where do I submit my application for the regional competition?
A: Go to the NYBPC website – – and select the Regional Competitions page. On the Regional Competitions page, you will find information for each of the 10 regional competitions, including submission instructions and contact information for the regional partner institutions.

Q: In what format may I submit my presentation for the competition?
A: Presentations must be submitted as either a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF file. These are the only formats that can be accepted and will be eligible for competition.  

Q: Is the presentation format the same as previous years with the elevator pitch round first followed by an investor pitch round for those teams that advance?
A: No – there will not be an elevator pitch round for the 2016 NYBPC. The presentation format for the regional semifinal and statewide final competitions may vary slightly based on the number of teams participating in each region. For the statewide final competition, each team will have 10 minutes to pitch, which will be followed by 5 minutes of Q&A with the panel of investor judges. Judges are advised to act as they would in a closed-door boardroom investment presentation during the Q&A session.

Q: How do I know which region my school is in?
A: Go to the NYBPC website – – and select the Regional Competitions page. On the Regional Competitions page, you will see a map that breaks up the state into the 10 Regional Economic Development Council zones that are being used for the program. If you are unsure which region your school is in, contact Ashley Pillsbury Stuart at to confirm your region and the appropriate regional partner institutions.

Q: What categories can I submit an application for?
A: Teams can submit an application for one of the following categories: Biotechnology/Healthcare, Energy/Sustainability, Information Technology/Software, Nanotechnology/Advanced Technology, Products/Services, and Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit. Teams are required to indicate which category they are applying for on the application and provide a one sentence explanation of why they feel they should compete in the category that they are applying in.

Q: How many teams will advance from the regional semifinal competitions to the statewide final competition?
A: A maximum of 2 teams from each of the 6 categories at the 10 regional semifinal competitions will be invited to the statewide final competition on April 29, 2016. There will be up to 120 teams participating in the statewide final competition, with a maximum of 20 teams in each category.

Q: Can I participate on more than one team?
A: No – students may not participate on more than one team each year of the competition.

Q: Am I allowed to form a team and work 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 collegiate institutions that are enrolled during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Q: My venture recently won $10,000 at another business plan competition. Are we still eligible to participate in the NYBPC?
A: Yes – student teams are eligible to compete in the NYBPC as long as they haven’t raised more than $100,000 in cumulative public and private capital, including other business plan competitions and grant funding.

Q: Do judges and participants sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements so that I don’t risk comprising the intellectual property of my idea or technology?
A: No – judges and participants do not sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements, just like they would in an actual investor presentation to venture capitalists, angels, and other funding parties. Entrepreneurs need to learn how to effectively pitch their idea, technology, and business model to investors without disclosing confidential or proprietary information. Teams should not include any confidential or proprietary information in their applications or presentations.

If my team isn’t selected to advance to the statewide final competition, can I still attend and watch the presentations?
A: Yes – teams that participate at the regional semifinal competitions but don’t advance are invited to attend the statewide final competition in Albany, NY on April 29, 2016.

Q: If I am working with students from another institution in a different region, are we allowed to apply in both regions?
A: No – teams with students from multiple regions may only apply to and participate in one region.

Q: Will my business need to be based in New York State?
A: This is not a requirement, but many of the judges have a preference for growing in state businesses.

Q: If I win the Business Plan Competition, what do I have to do to claim my prize money?
A: The prizes distributed through the Business Plan Competition are intended to help jumpstart student business ventures. If your team wins the Grand Prize or First Place in any of the six tracks, you must meet certain requirements to be eligible to claim your cash prize. Winning teams will work with NYBPC to develop milestones that must be fulfilled to receive the full cash prize.

If you have additional questions about the NYBPC, please contact Ashley Pillsbury Stuart at