College Cup Innovation Challenge

Bring your ideas and innovations to life.

Learn more about the College Cup Innovation Challenge and how you can win $10,000 towards your idea. Attend an upcoming info session at the StarTUp at the Armory.

February 8, 4:30–5:30 p.m. February 16, 5–6 p.m.

Applications for the TU College Cup Innovation Challenge are due by midnight on Monday, February 26, 2024.

Apply Today


The College Cup Innovation Challenge is a university-wide challenge that assists students from all disciplines in developing new socially- or commercially-oriented ideas and innovations to positively impact the world. This challenge is open to all TU students from all disciplines.

The TU College Cup Innovation Challenge is for new, innovative ways of solving a problem which are in the idea stage. Innovative ideas and innovation are defined as a new idea, method, or device: novelty; the introduction of something new; a new method, idea, product, etc. Potential solutions may be a process, a device or product, a service, etc. Students who have ideas with the potential to turn those ideas into a successful venture are encouraged to apply. In the context of this Challenge, “venture” means the structure that will bring the idea to fruition.

How do I know if my idea is an innovative idea? Ask yourself, has it been seen before? Ideas or new technologies that students have worked on in previous academic years, or even prior to entering university are eligible for submission to the Challenge. Ideas may be mission oriented (non-profit) or market oriented (for-profit).

Additional Information

All participants will gain valuable professional experience with highly sought-after transferrable workplace skills that support professional careers—communications, self-confidence, navigating uncertainty, risk taking, decision-making. Participating students will learn how to deliver a compelling presentation with the support of the TU College Cup Innovation Challenge Bootcamp and access to mentors to practice and prepare for the challenge event. All Challenge finalists will be able to add this distinction to their resume which will highlight these valuable workplace skills.

Applications for the TU College Cup Innovation Challenge are due by 11:59pm on Monday, February 26, 2024.

The StarTUp and eTU team will answer questions regarding the rules. Questions can be submitted via email to Lauren Jan, StarTUp Team Lead at Ljan@towson.edu or Dr. Gashaw Abeza, eTU Faculty Fellow & College Cup Team Lead at

Apply Today

  • November 9: Applications open 
  • November 27–February 26: Ideation Sessions. Meet with the StarTUp team to help with the creation or refinement of your business idea. Sign up for sessions here.
  • February 8, 4:30–5:30 p.m.: Information session: register online here.
  • February 16, 5–6 p.m.: Information session: register online here.
  • February 26: Application deadline 
  • March 1: TU College Cup Bootcamp 
  • March 5: One-page executive summary due to Ljan@towson.edu by 5pm 
  • March 5: “Learn to Pitch” Classroom Session. Must submit executive summary to Ljan@towson.edu to attend session. 
  • March 6–13: Pitch Workshop Sessions. Must complete all previous steps before signing up for timeslots on Doodle Poll. 
  • March 14–15: Pitch for StarTUp and eTU team to determine finalists. Finalists announced via email by March 18. 
  • March 25–29: Finalists Pitch Practices 
  • April 2: TU College Cup Competition at the StarTUp at the Armory
  • First prize is a place in the TU StarTUp Accelerator and a $10,000 equity-free stipend
  • The prize for all other finalists is $1,000
  • Varying monetary prizes for participants

All prizes must support advancing the winning venture ideas.

There are three eligibility categories for the 2023 TU College Cup Innovation Challenge. Collectively, they are called “Eligible Participants.”

  1. Current students: The 2024 TU College Cup Innovation Challenge is open to full and part-time undergraduate students enrolled at Towson University during the 2023–2024 academic year and full and part-time graduate students enrolled at Towson University during 2023–2024 academic year. Students can be enrolled for the fall or spring semesters and/or both semesters. Part-time students must be enrolled in at least three credits. Other enrolled students may be permitted to participate on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Alumni from the 2022–2023 academic year: Students who graduated from Towson University during the 2022–2023 academic year with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree are eligible to participate (December 2022, May 2023, August 2023, or December 2023).
  3. Students accepted to Towson University: Undergraduate and graduate students accepted to Towson University are eligible to apply. This includes students who are transferring or have deferred their enrollment to a future semester. If an accepted student wins, they would receive their prize money after their first month as an enrolled student (taking at least three credits) at Towson University is completed.

Eligible Participants may enter as individuals or a team of no more than five. The team must identify a Team Leader. Eligible Participants can only participate on one team. Undergraduate students and graduate students may participate on the same team and must identify a team leader.

If an Eligible Participant wants to include an individual who does not meet the above-listed requirements for Eligible Participants on their team, the Eligible Participant must notify Dr. Gashaw Abeza, eTU Faculty Fellow & College Cup Team Lead, gabeza@towson.edu or Lauren Jan, StarTUp Team Lead, at Ljan@towson.edu. The eTU Team will determine if the team member may participate. In all cases, at least 50% of all the teams must be comprised of Eligible Participants, Eligible Participants must complete a majority of the work involved, and an Eligible Participant must serve as the team leader.

Prize money will be equally distributed among the Eligible Participants on the team. If the company is incorporated, the Eligible Participants must own at least 50% of the company. If they do not meet this requirement, they may contact the eTU team to request participation, and eligibility will be determined on a case-by- case basis. 

Eligible Participants are expected to:

  • Be the project lead and driving force behind the new venture
  • Have significant ownership in the venture
  • Eligible Participants do not need to have formed a venture to participate, but the judges would like to see that you are heading in that direction.

NOTE: The following types of ventures are excluded from the TU College Cup Innovation Challenge: expansions of existing companies, franchises, and licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area

At least one team member is required to participate in the Bootcamp hosted by the StarTUp. The Bootcamp will consist of workshops and mentor sessions that will assist Eligible Participants with developing their venture ideas. All team members are strongly encouraged to attend. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Finalists will present a five-minute pitch of their venture at the TU College Cup Innovation Challenge event and submit a one-page Executive Summary no later than Tuesday, March 5, 2024 by 5 p.m. to startup@towson.edu 

The pitch is an overview of the venture that you should be able to deliver powerfully and concisely. The first impression is critical in capturing the attention of a potential end-user, strategic partner, or investor. The pitch should provide enough information to pique interest and provide a clear picture of the idea and its solution. It should be delivered effectively and succinctly. The TU College Cup Innovation Challenge Bootcamp will support finalists in developing their pitch. Examples and pitch templates will be provided.

Judges will evaluate each team based on how convincingly they present their venture concept, such that the judge would want to learn more about the company if they were a potential end-user, strategic partner, or investor. The best teams are those that an end-user, strategic partner, or investor would want to schedule a follow-up meeting for further discussion.

The quality of the idea, its growth potential, the quality of innovation, the strength of the project lead and team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions. The challenge is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting end-users, strategic partners, and/or investors.

The winners of the competition will be determined by the judges’ ranking of the teams on the day of the competition. The following scoring rubric will be used in the challenge and will remain confidential. Team members can inquire with the Entrepreneurship@TU team and for specific feedback after the event. 

  • Is the idea/innovation unique?
  • Is the innovation of interest to target end-users?   What is the growth potential of the innovation?
  • Does the team demonstrate the expertise to lead the innovation?
  • Was the pitch clear and well-done?
  • Is there a clear path to sustaining the innovative solution?

Towson University will not take any ownership stake in the intellectual property developed by the student teams presented at TU College Cup Innovation Challenge. Towson University will not take any equity stake in the companies formed by the student teams. 

If the team is disqualified prior to the competition, eTU reserves the right to offer that spot to another applicant. If the team is disqualified at the competition, the next highest scoring team will take its place.

The StarTUp and Towson University reserve the right to change these rules at any time.  By entering, team members agree to release Towson University and its agents from any and all liability, claims or actions of any kind whatsoever for damages or losses to persons and property that may be sustained in connection with the challenge entry, or receipt or use of the prize.

By entering, team members agree that photographs, whether still or action, videos, film and/or motion pictures (hereinafter “Pictures”), and/or audio recordings (“Recordings”), may be taken of them by or on behalf of the University and in connection with the TU College Cup Innovation Challenge, and, without any compensation or further notification or approval by team members, grant to the University and its agents, employees, and others working on its behalf, the unlimited, perpetual, worldwide, unconditional and irrevocable right and license to use, distribute, publish, exhibit, digitize, broadcast, display, reproduce, make commercial use of and otherwise use directly or indirectly the Pictures, Recordings and their image, voice, likeness and/or video footage in any form, format or media (“Media”), for any purpose, including but not limited to advertising or trade and agree that all rights therein shall irrevocably, exclusively, unconditionally and perpetually belong to the University.

By entering, team members agree to release and discharge the University and its officers, representatives, employees, affiliates, agents, licensees, successors and assigns from any and all claims, demands or causes of action that they may now have or may hereafter have for libel, defamation, invasion of privacy or right of publicity, infringement of copyright or violation of any other right arising out of or relating to any utilization of the Pictures, Recordings, or Media.

All questions should be sent to the StarTUp or eTU team leads:

StarTUp Team Lead: Lauren Jan,

eTU Faculty Fellow & College Cup Team Lead: Dr. Gashaw Abeza,