The University organizes two major new venture Competitions: the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup (E-Cup), a three-stage competition supporting student ventures, and the Galant Challenge, connecting Alumni ventures with seed-stage investors. Every year, the E-Cup provides at least $100,000 in awards to student ventures. The Galant Challenge has connected ventures with greater than $2,000,000 in seed capital over the first four years of the event.
The University of Virginia Entrepreneurship Cup, also known as the E-Cup, is an annual $100,000 competition that seeks to enrich the area’s entrepreneurial community by encouraging new ventures with the potential to address unmet needs, solve social and economic problems, and do so in an interdisciplinary way. The E-Cup is open to all UVA undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. The Concept Competition is the first stage in a three part series of annual competitions organized under the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup. $25,000 in total prize money will be awarded as part of the Concept Stage. The purpose of the Concept stage of the competition is to surface and seed ideas from all parts of the university at every stage of development. The second stage of the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup, the Discovery Competition, is all about customer and product development. $25,000 in total prize money will be awarded as part of the Discovery Stage. The Discovery Competition is based upon the principles of effectuation, a problem solving process that expert entrepreneurs undertake after they have conceived of their idea (Stage I: Concept), but before they invested significant time and money into the project (Stage III: Launch!). The Launch Competition is the third and final stage of the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup, and its goal is to showcase and provide seed capital to the most compelling student ventures. In past years, upwards of $50,000 in total prize and in-kind resources have been awarded. This stage of the competition is about commitment, sustainability, and scale.
The mission of the Galant Challenge is to connect seed-stage ventures with seed-stage investment capital. We invite individual angel investors and seed capital firms who regularly invest in seed-stage start-ups to connect with, evaluate, and—when the opportunity is compelling—invest in participating ventures. Since 2012, the Challenge has resulted in nearly $1 million invested in UVA student and, now, alumni ventures. Importantly, the Galant Challenge is not a traditional business plan competition, through which ideas are pitched, winners and runner-ups are selected, and some limited amount of prize money is awarded. Instead, the Challenge is an event, through which we hope to not only showcase compelling ventures from the UVA community, but also connect these ventures with investment capital. As a result of this approach, while a limited set of ventures is selected by the Advisers and potential Investors to participate in the Challenge, there is no set pool of capital that must be invested, and there is no set limit to the pool of capital that might be invested as a result of the conversations that occur.