The Duke Startup Challenge, founded in 1999, is designed to help Duke's entrepreneurship community flourish, with a year long entrepreneurship competition followed by an accelerator program.

  • Want to apply for the next round ?

    Applications are due on October 30, 2016

    Make sure to look at our Idea Summary Template.

  • How it works

    Teams compete in three rounds over the course of 11 months

  • Rules

    Read the rules for the competition

  • Current Competition Updates and Information

    See what teams have progressed to Round II, the summer program, and the Grand Finale 

    (Updates made after each Round)

  • Please join us for the 17th Annual Duke Startup Challenge Grande Finale with Tatiana Birgisson (T'12) of MATI Energy!

    Sept. 28, 2016 at 7:30 pm, Geneen Auditorium, Fuqua School of Business


  • Congratulations!

    16th Annual Duke Startup Challenge Grand Prize Winner

    Congratulations to Afreen and Cromoz (d/b/a SiNON) on winning the  $50,000 Wickett Family Prize and the $2,500 Duke Angel Network and I&E Task Force Prize at our Grand Finale! Read more about her team and our other finalists below.

  • More Congratulations! 

    2015-2016 Alumni Prize Winner Announced...

    Congratulations to Tom & Jenny's for winning the 17th Annual Duke Startup Challenge Alumni Prize!  


    You can order some of their tooth-friendly candy here.


     Photo Credit: Anna Routh Photography





    "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

    Olivia Klupar

    Student Co-Chair, Duke Startup Challenge

    Duke MBA, '18

    Sidney McLaurin, Jr.

    Student Co-Chair, Duke Startup Challenge

    Duke MBA / Env. Mgmt., '17

    Howie Rhee '04

    Lead Advisor, Duke Startup Challenge

    Jon Fjeld

    Advisor, Duke Startup Challenge

    T. Reid Lewis '84

    Advisor, Duke Startup Challenge

    Matt Nash

    Social Entrepreneurship Advisor, Duke Startup Challenge

    Judd Staples '92 '02

    Treasurer, Duke Startup Challenge

    Suellen Aldina

    Clean Energy Track Advisor, Duke University Energy Initiative

    Jeff Ward '09

    Duke Startup Ventures Clinic, Duke Law

    Jesko von Windheim

    Professor of the Practice, Nicholas School of the Environment

    Kelly Garvy

    Environmental Entrepreneurship advisor, Duke Startup Challenge

  • 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

    Wickett Family Prize - $50,000

    Thank you to the Wickett Family for providing the Grand Prize for the Duke Startup Challenge.

    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

    Alumni / Staff / Faculty Prize - $10,000

    The Duke Startup Challenge awards $10,000 to the best team led by an alumnus, staff or faculty member.

    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.


    SoFi will be awarding the winner of the Duke Startup Challenge Grand Finale a $2,000 cash prize and automatic entry into the SoFi Entrepreneur Program.


    SoFi was started by entrepreneurs and they want to help other entrepreneurs – like you!

    SoFi is the leading provider of student loan refinancing. Since founding in 2011 at Stanford, they have funded $11B+ in loans. Beyond savings, SoFi offers services to accelerate the success of their community of 170,000+ members, including the SoFi Entrepreneur Program.

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  • Contact

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