McDaniel Innovation Challenge

Contest Description
Competition Description: 

Have an innovative idea to solve a real world problem, meet a market need or develop a new product?  Add ideas are welcome - from creative ways to address poverty, to the development of a gadget every college student would want, to the launch of your own business.

The McDaniel Innovation Challenge is sponsored by the Encompass Distinction and made possible by the generous support of the Sisco Fund for Enterprise Management.

Cash Prizes-

1st Prize - $10,000

2nd Prize - $5,500

3rd Price - $2,500

Frequently Asked Questions!

Who is the competition open to?

All McDaniel College undergraduate students, 18 years of age and older, are eligible to enter the competition.

Can I enter more than once?

You can enter the competition every year that you are eligible.

Is there a limit to the amount of ideas I can enter?

You can submit as many applications as you’d like. However, you are only eligible to be selected as a finalist for one idea.

Where can I get ideas?

At the heart of every startup idea is a compelling problem. Grab a small journal or create an easily accessible note on your phone. For an entire week, write down all of things that are broken, missing, or wrong with your world. These problems can be found reading an article in the New York Times or walking between classes. At the end of the week, you’ll have a long list of problems that need solving.

Where can I get help?

Startup Local offers online resources to help you with your application. To gain access to these resources, simply register for an account.

If you’d like personalized help, you can reach out to:

Jason Stambaugh
Entrepreneur in Residence

How should I get ready?

There are two workshops that will prepare you for the challenge:

Innovation Challenge Workshop #1
Monday, November 2nd from 8-9:30pm
Get ready to enter McDaniel’s first Sisco Innovation Challenge! Students with creative non-profit or for-profit ideas are invited to pitch and compete for a cash prize package valued at $10,000. This first workshop will offer you an overview of the competition and practical ways to create and pitch a compelling idea. It will be hosted by McDaniel’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Jason Stambaugh.

Innovation Challenge Workshop #2
Monday, February 8th from 8-9:30pm
Get ready to enter McDaniel’s first Sisco Innovation Challenge! This is your chance to win $10,000 for your create non-profit or for-profit business idea! During this second workshop, you will have the opportunity to learn the basics of a great business pitch from Jon Weetman, owner of The Entrepreneur Store. You’ll also have the opportunity to shoot a professional video pitch which you can use as part of your application to the challenge.

Both workshops will be held in the Wahrhaftig Room

What do the prizes include?

Cash prizes!

How does the judging work?

The finalists will be selected by the Sisco Innovation Challenge Advisory Board. They will be reviewing and scoring each application according to the following rubric:

1. Creativity (1-5)
2. Product/Service Clarity (1-5)
3. Market Potential (1-5)
4. Competitive Landscape (1-5)
5. Operational Sustainability (1-5)

Up to five finalists will be selected to present in front a of a live audience and panel of judges.
Who are the judges?

The judges will be celebrities from the McDaniel alumni community. Check back for more details.

What kind of startups can I pitch?

Maybe you want open a main street cafe. Maybe you want solve the Syrian refugee crisis. Maybe you want to develop the next #1 mobile app.

You can pitch a non-profit or for-profit startup of any kind. All you need an idea for a startup that will offer a solution to a compelling problem.

If you aren’t sure about your startup idea, reach out to the Jason Stambaugh, the Entrepreneur in Residence. His email is

Competition Prizes
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First Prize
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Second Prize
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Third Prize
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Eligibility Requirements
Terms and Conditions
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