New Venture Challenge membersIn 2007, local venture capitalists, business leaders, professors and administrators convened to help shape CU Boulder as an entrepreneurial university.

One early success was the New Venture Challenge (NVC), which has become the premier business plan competition on campus, awarding cash prizes to students, faculty and staff who aspire to turn ideas into companies. NVC draws mentors, alumni, investors and other supporters to campus to encourage teams throughout the competition, which runs from fall through spring.

Since 2007, nearly 400 teams have competed, 47 of which have received more than $13 million in combined venture funding and grants. Last year alone, more than 40 teams participated, and the top five finishers netted $100,000 in prize money and private investment.

But numbers don’t tell the full story, according to Sarabeth Berk, assistant director for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. By engaging virtually the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in a single competition, “the NVC has become the heartbeat of entrepreneurship on campus.”