INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS

The Tibetan Innovation Challenge is an intercollegiate social entrepreneurship business plan contest, organized by the University of Rochester, aiming to improve the lives of Tibetans living in refugee camps in India through self-sustaining and replicable business ideas.

 OVERVIEW

Teams must meet the following criteria:

  • All participants must be currently enrolled in a college or university as of March 1, 2017. Graduate and undergraduate students are eligible. Although faculty, staff and alumni are not eligible for the competition, teams are encouraged to seek mentorship and advice from these members of their academic communities, as well as from sources outside their institutions.
  • Teams should have 2-5 members. At least two team members must commit to attend and present at the International Finals in June 2017.
  • Teams can include members from multiple colleges or universities, as long as each member is a currently enrolled student.

Looking for teammates? Visit our Build Your Team Forum.

This competition is intended to create innovative and practical business ideas that Tibetan refugees can implement in their communities to foster long-term economic development and stability. The best ideas will be adaptable for similar communities and populations in other parts of the world. Plans should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Demonstrate a clear and thorough understanding of the unique challenges facing Tibetan refugees and be able to explain how a venture will address these challenges. Participants are encouraged to connect with a Tibetan mentor and explore resources on our website to learn more about Tibetan refugees.
  • Plan to be financially sustainable or profitable, whether the venture is for-profit or not-for-profit
  • Plan to be scalable long-term, taking into account the potential for growth of the business, both financially and in its social impact
  • Include a plan for measuring and evaluating both financial and social impact
  • Submitted ventures may not be a wholly owned subsidiary of an existing entity (of either a for-profit or not-for-profit entity).
  • By entering the competition, students understand that all submitted plans are for the benefit of Tibetan refugees and may be implemented with or without student involvement.
  • All teams must submit an application, a two-page executive summary, a one-page financial snapshot, and the link to a five-minute video overview of the plan, uploaded to a platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. Teams selected to advance to the finals will submit a complete business plan.
  • The executive summary should include the following (word counts are only a guideline):
    • Team/Company Name
    • Industry
    • Management Team Members: Include full names, titles, Schools, and class years
    • One Line Pitch (30 words)
    • Abstract (100 words)
    • Customer Problem (40 words)
    • Your Solution (100 words)
    • Target Market (100 words): Include market size, growth rate, segmentation, and market structure where applicable
    • Marketing & Sales Strategy (100 words)
    • Business Model (40 words)
    • Competition (100 words)
    • Competitive Advantage (100 words): List barriers to entry, any patents, and/or technology
    • Funds Needed
    • Use of Funds
    • Financial Snapshot: Show total revenue, total expenditure and net for each year over a 5-year projection period
    • Exit Strategy
    • Appendices: Include any diagrams that show or demonstrate your product or service
  • Complete business plans (due only if selected for the International Finals) may not exceed 15 pages written, and no more than 20 pages total with supporting graphs, charts, financials, etc. Teams may provide unlimited supplemental materials for the benefit of the Tibetans who will be implementing the winning plan; however, these materials will not be considered by the judges when selecting a winner.
  • Submissions are due to heidi.mergenthaler@rochester.edu by 11:59pm on Monday, April 3, 2017. If selected for the International Finals, a full business plan will be due in May 2017. Details TBA.

Round 1: Students submit a proposal for the qualifying round by April 3, 2017. Submissions are evaluated by a panel of judges to select the finalists. A maximum of one team per participating university will advance to the finals.

Round 2: Finalists will compete at the International Finals in June 2017. The winners will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges, including high-profile Tibetans.

View judges.

Judges will evaluate the plans based on the potential to become a viable new venture, the potential social value in the Tibetan refugee communities, the potential for financial sustainability, and the likelihood of achieving long-term success.

Winning ventures will exhibit the following:

  • Understanding of Tibetan Culture and Challenges
  • Strong Team and Polished Presentation
  • Originality and Creativity of Idea
  • Business Potential and Feasibility
  • Financial, Social and Environmental Sustainability
  • Scalability
  • Social Value and Impact
  • Likelihood of Success

Download the complete judging criteria.

Download the judging rubric.

View judges.

CALENDAR

FEBRUARY 2017

2017 competition accepting submissions.

APRIL 3

Submissions due.

APRIL 2017

Finalist teams and alternate teams selected.

JUNE 2017

National Finals. Winning team announced.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Answers to most questions can be found on the Tibetan Innovation Challenge website. However, if you can’t find an answer to your question here, contact the University of Rochester’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship or request a Tibetan mentor. Click on each question to expand.

There are many populations in need who could benefit from a competition such as this one, and it is our intent that the Tibetan Innovation Challenge will serve as a model for other competitions to serve similarly challenged populations around the globe. Tibetan refugees face many economic, legal, social and political difficulties, as well as the added challenge of trying to preserve the rich culture of a people whose history dates back over 2,000 years. The Dalai Lama has expressed deep concern over the outflow of young Tibetans who are forced to leave their communities in search of gainful employment. The Tibetan Innovation Challenge intends to respond to this concern by stimulating the development of self-sustaining and replicable business ideas. The founder of competition partner The Art of Peace Foundation, Michael Wohl,  is a University of Rochester alumnus.

Visit the Background Information section of our website for downloadable files and links to more information.

Yes. You may request to be matched with a Tibetan mentor who can provide you with first-hand information about Tibet, the Tibetan people, and Tibetan culture.

Graduate and undergraduate students currently enrolled in a college or university as of March 1, 2017 are eligible to compete.

Yes. We recommend that each team include a business student to ensure the viability of your plan, but graduate and undergraduate students from any field of study can compete, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

No, but all team members must be enrolled college or university students as of March 1, 2017. You can visit our Intercollegiate Teams Forum to post that you are looking for teammates from other universities.

Visit our Build Your Team Forum and post exactly who you are looking for. Select the “Find a Teammate” forum to find teammates from your own university or to create a new post. You can also select the Intercollegiate Teams Forum to find teammates from other universities.

Request to be matched with a Tibetan mentor. Your college or university may have faculty members with expertise relating to Tibet, refugees, social entrepreneurship, business plan writing, economic development, or other relevant subjects, who might serve as mentors or advisers. You can also check with your university’s entrepreneurship center or faculty to find out about their social entrepreneurship contacts.

Stay tuned to our Judges page or follow us on Twitter to hear about the 2017 judges as they’re confirmed.

The first-prize winners in the International Finals will be awarded $5,000. The second place team may also receive a cash prize. All of the submitted plans have the opportunity to form the foundations of real businesses in the Tibetan refugee community.

A two-page executive summary (view guidelines), a one-page financial snapshot, and the link to a 5-minute video summary uploaded to a platform such as YouTube or Vimeo are due to heidi.mergenthaler@rochester.edu by 11:59pm EST on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Teams that are selected to advance to the International Finals will submit a full business plan in May 2017 (date TBA).

A two-page executive summary (view guidelines), a one-page financial snapshot, and the link to a 5-minute video summary uploaded to a platform such as YouTube or Vimeo are due to heidi.mergenthaler@rochester.edu by 11:59pm EST on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Teams that are selected to advance to the International Finals will submit a full business plan in May 2017 (date TBA).

We recommend that your team focus on making one plan as strong as you possibly can rather than spreading yourselves thin across multiple plans.

Yes, but students should understand before entering the competition that all submitted plans are for the benefit of Tibetan refugees and may be implemented with or without student involvement.

If selected to advance to the International Finals in June 2017, your team and/or your university will be responsible for all expenses associated with travel and accommodations for the final competition. International Finals details TBA.

A limited number of finalists will be selected to compete in the International Finals. Only one team per college or university will be selected to advance to the finals.

It’s up to you. If you’ve received useful feedback from the first round that you’d like to incorporate in your plan for the International Finals, you may do so.

Your team and/or your university are responsible for all expenses associated with travel and accommodations for the final competition. International Finals details TBA.

No, but students should understand before entering the competition that all submitted plans are for the benefit of Tibetan refugees and may be implemented with or without student involvement. Ventures will be partially financed by the Tibet House in London and The Art of Peace Foundation. Your prize money is yours to do with as you wish.

The University of Rochester is unable to provide any continuing support to winners of the Tibetan Innovation Challenge. Students should understand before entering the competition that all submitted plans are for the benefit of Tibetan refugees and may be implemented with or without student involvement.

Yes, but students should understand before entering the competition that all submitted plans are for the benefit of Tibetan refugees and may be implemented with or without student involvement.

ASSIGNMENT AND WAIVER OF RIGHTS

By entering the Tibetan Innovation Challenge, authors of each submitted plan agree to allow use of all elements of their plans to the Tibetan refugees; however, they and their home institution(s) will receive credit and recognition in any publicity and media coverage. The winning team’s business plan may be the foundation of a new business venture in a Tibetan refugee camp, to be partially financed by the Tibet House in London and The Art of Peace Foundation. The winning team may have the opportunity to travel to India at their own expense at a later date to visit the refugee camp and meet the people who will be implementing the winning plan. Tibetan refugees will be able to implement any of the plans submitted.

Participants grant the University of Rochester and its respective employees, agents, and assigns a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and unconditional license to edit, modify, reproduce, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, adapt and/or use or reuse their submitted plans, any materials submitted or prepared for use in the Tibetan Innovation Challenge, their names, images, voices, likenesses, statements, background and biographical information in any and all media (including but not limited to print, electronic, video, digital, radio, television, internet, etc.) for publicity, promotion, advertising, fundraising, administrative, academic or educational purposes.

CONTACT US

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