• How it works

    January 10, 2021

    Individual students fill out a simple form to join the Student Founder Commuity. Students do not need to have a startup idea, nor do they need to have a team.


    February 28, 2021

    Students will be encouraged to adopt a critical mindset to see the world in a new light and identify opportunities.


    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought." – Albert Szent-Györgyi


    April 30, 2021

    Students will submit their ideas


    Summer 2021

    Alumni evaluators will help the students to identify and further the most promising ideas

    Students will continue to develop their ideas and start to build prototypes (when appropriate)


    Fall 2021

    Idea Showcase - The top ideas will be shared with the Duke community


    "I’m enormously grateful for the opportunities that Duke has granted me."

    — Matt Pleatman, Trinity '13, Refresh Innovations

    "The Duke Startup Challenge helped focus our ideas, more clearly express our concepts, and explore how to explain a complicated problem to an uninformed public."

    — Robert Ross, John Thrush, and Nicolai Tvermoes, WEMBA '09, Wastewater and Sewer Solutions

    "Start early, work hard, and seek advice."

    — Jack Beuttell, MEM/MBA '14, VentureFarming

  • Vamsee Pamula and Michael Pollack's (DSC '00) startup Advanced Liquid-Logic acquired by Illumina

    Acquisition a Key Component in the Development of Complete Sample-to-Answer Solutions for Next-Generation Sequencing

    Chuck Eesley (DSC '02) publishes Stanford Innovation Report

    Study shows Stanford alumni create nearly $3 trillion in economic impact each year. Read more...

    Rachael Chong's (DSC '09) startup Catchafire helps professionals use their skills to make a difference

    Catchafire matches professionals who want to give their skills with nonprofits and social enterprises that need their help. Read more...

    Matt Kane, Jeff Smith, and Derek Jantz (DSC '06) help break the genetic code with Precision Biosciences

    Precision BioSciences' Directed Nuclease Editor (DNE) is a robust platform for genome engineering. Read more...

    Surgeons at Duke University Hospital implant bioengineered vein created by Humacyte (DSC '05)

    In a first-of-its-kind operation in the United States, a team of doctors at Duke University Hospital helped create a bioengineered blood vessel and implanted it into the arm of a patient with end-stage kidney disease. Read more...

    Max Hodak (DSC '08) raises $1.2 million for his latest startup Transcriptic

    Transcriptic is a platform for biology: a system where, rather than carrying out your protocols by hand as the vast majority of basic research is done today, you can simply send them to us for execution on our automation. Read more...

    James Sawabini's startup Zamsolar (DSC '12) recently helped Sinda Village go solar

    Zamsolar empowers off-grid Zambian households with affordable, reliable clean energy solutions. Read more...

    BaseTrace (DSC '12) is a breakthrough application of cutting-edge DNA tracer technology for hydraulic fracturing.

    Our solution is BaseTrace, a well-specific DNA-based tracer that can be added to the hydraulic fracturing fluid.  Read more...

  • TEAM

    Howie Rhee '04

    Managing Director, Student Programs

    Duke I&E

    Jon Fjeld


    Duke I&E

    T. Reid Lewis '84

    Co-founder of DukeGEN

    Matt Nash

    Managing Director, Social Entrepreneurship Advisor

    Duke I&E

    Suellen Aldina

    Clean Energy Track Advisor, Duke University Energy Initiative

    Jeff Ward '09

    Duke Startup Ventures Clinic, Duke Law

  • David Cummings endows Frank Borchardt Undergraduate Prize Fund. 

    "As a freshman at Duke I was part of a first year program where students elected to join 29 other students and study a particular topic, in our case, Computers in Society. One of my courses was Instructional Technologies, taught by Professor Frank Borchardt." Read more.

  • Prizes

    AARP Foundation Prize - $5,000

    AARP Foundation is working with struggling individuals age 50 and above by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: hunger, housing, income and isolation. The Duke Startup Challenge is proud to team with them on this prize. Learn more

    Clean Energy Prize - $10,000

    The goal of the Duke Clean Energy Prize is to encourage the participation of Duke energy students in the Startup Challenge, which is open to all Duke students, faculty, staff and alumni. Any team pitching a product, technology or service that advances the Energy Initiative’s mission of making energy accessible, affordable, reliable and clean may participate in the Clean Energy track.

    Biomedical Engineering Prize - $10,000

    Biomedical engineering is offering $10,000 to teams that have at least one student enrolled full-time in a Biomedical Engineering undergraduate, MS, MEng or PhD program, and that such student is an integral part of such team’s leadership, serving in a position such as a co-founder, senior executive, or equivalent.

    Rasheed A. Wiggins Prize - $1,500

    Prize Eligibility: The Rasheed A. Wiggins Entrepreneurial Prize recognizes the achievements of an emerging entrepreneur and/or company whose team members best exemplify the ideals and spirit of the prize’s namesake. Each winner and/or team should be able to demonstrate notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing strong ethical values in the workplace, as well as in their individual lives. Ultimately, the winning idea and/or applicant will embody the giving nature, moral values, and desire to enrich the lives of their fellow humans-- just as Rasheed A. Wiggins lived his life.


    Are you dedicated to entrepreneurship? Select the Rasheed A. Wiggins track on the application.

    Dean Yep, Jr. Memorial Prize

    Dean Yep, Jr., a beloved member of the Fuqua School of Business Class of 2012, passed away in 2016. A fervent participant in the Duke Startup Challenge, Dean believed in entrepreneurship’s ability to diminish geographic and social boundaries. He embraced the Team Fuqua culture, and his intensity and tenacity inspired and empowered everyone around him to thrive in all aspects of their lives, empowering everyone around him to be better.


    The Dean Yep, Jr. Prize will recognize the achievements of a Startup Challenge team that through its members embodies Dean’s values, characteristics, and spirit as determined by Duke Startup Challenge judges. Preference will be given to a team where a Fuqua student has made a significant or meaningful contribution, though any team is eligible to win the Yep Prize.

  • Thank you to our sponsors

  • Contact

    Let us know if you have any questions!