Celebrating 21 Years of the New Venture Competition

More than 700 teams have competed and over $171k has been awarded in cash prizes.

March 2, 2021–This year, we celebrate the 21st Annual New Venture Competition at Boston University!

Over the last 21 years, more than 700 teams of BU Terriers have put forth new and innovative ideas through the competition–these teams have represented every BU school and college and ideas have spanned almost every industry in the forms of new technology, for-profit ventures, and nonprofits.

For some, the competition has served as a launching point to take their venture to the next level or to make entrepreneurship their full-time role. And for others, it gave them the skills, confidence, and mindset needed to create impact through their careers and in their communities.

“I have obviously been impressed by many of our finalists and winners and it has been great to see them be successful with their new ventures in subsequent years,” said Ian Mashiter, Innovate@BU’s director of curriculum and Questrom School of Business senior lecturer of strategy and innovation. “But it has also been great to help and coach students in how to pitch. It has helped them develop a confidence and belief in themselves that will be invaluable to them in their chosen occupation after graduation.”

A core component of Innovate@BU’s mission is to help students cross-collaborate and to form teams across the University’s schools and colleges. As the New Venture Competition has grown and since Innovate@BU was formed, Siobhan O’Mahony, Innovate@BU’s academic and research director and Questrom professor of strategy and innovation, said that she noticed a dramatic change in team formation at BU.

“We used to see one student come to us with an idea and ask for help on how to develop it, as an individual aspiration,” said O’Mahony. “Now we see whole teams of students from different schools and colleges across BU and that has been so satisfying–to see the University launch whole teams of entrepreneurs instead of just one entrepreneur! Innovate@BU has amplified the effect of the New Venture Competition to link students across campus to help them convert their good ideas into impact.”

New Venture Competition Fast-facts: 

  • The competition was founded by BU’s Questrom School of Business.
  • Between 2014-2017, the BUzz Lab, the University’s first entrepreneurship center, oversaw the competition. 
  • In 2018, the BU BUzz Lab was ultimately absorbed by the launch of Innovate@BU and its home on campus, the BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center. The competition has been organized by Innovate@BU’s program department ever since. 
  • Over $171,000 has been awarded in cash prizes.
  • In 2019, a 2 track system was put in place for General Ideas and Social Impact Ideas, doubling the prize money to $64,000 split among six teams.

“The competition has grown considerably in the years I have been involved,” said Mashiter. “The addition of a social impact track has been important and the popularity of this reflects the fact that many students want to be change-makers and are focused on building ventures that make the world a better place.”

As we get closer to the 2021 New Venture Competition finale on April 16, we look forward to sharing stories from a few NVC winners over the past 21 years to see where their entrepreneurial journey has taken them. Meet five of them below and follow along on Instagram to hear exclusive interviews.


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