In 1989, Charles and Janet Forbes ’40 provided an endowment to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to establish the Forbes Entrepreneurial Award, which encourages current, full-time undergraduate engineering students to consider the commercial potential of topics or processes they are studying.

Charles Forbes was motivated by his belief that engineers, with an appreciation of the business aspects of new ventures, can contribute significantly to a much needed increase in manufacturing and production-oriented industry in the United States. Accordingly, the award was intended to encourage engineering students to augment their academic design projects with a business plan, including the initial organizational, financial, marketing, and production aspects of a company based on their design results.

Competition Founders

The combined backgrounds of the founders inspired the creation of this business plan competition for engineering students.

Charles H. Forbes, who earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering and M.B.A. from the University of Michigan, was a flexible and forward thinking small business founder who led with his core values:

  • Honesty and trustworthiness are extended and expected in return
  • As members of the corporate family, employees are treated respectfully with an understanding of their individual needs and desires
  • Customers have unique problems that can be innovatively solved
  • As many attempts as needed are made to ensure customer satisfaction with the product

Janet Phillips Forbes ’40 was a supporter of the University of Rochester for eight decades:

  • Employed after graduation as Eastman School of Music Concert Bureau Manager, followed by Alumnae Secretary and Field Representative
  • Advocated for the creation of a new position at the University to become the first admissions director for the College for Women (Prince Street campus)
  • Served in many volunteer leadership capacities including on the Board of Governors, Alumni Council, Memorial Art Gallery Women’s Council, Trustees Council, Student Affairs Committee, Board of Trustees and Life Trustee


Prior to selling Forbes Products Corporation in 1986, Charles and Janet made several gifts of appreciated company stock to the University. The gifts were for two purposes:

  • Renovations to the Admissions Office
  • Establishment of the Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Award

The first award was presented during the 1989–1990 academic year. For twenty years the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences coordinated the competition. In 2010 its name was changed to the Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition and its management was transferred to the Center for Entrepreneurship, which later became the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The endowment continues to generate funds for annual prizes of:

  • $5,000 – 1st place
  • $2,500 – 2nd place
  • $1,000 – 3rd place


  • Applications must be submitted online. Click the Apply button to the right to access the online application.
  • All competition participants must currently be enrolled as full-time undergraduates at the University of Rochester. Only active UR undergraduate students in good standing are eligible to present in the competition and receive prize money.
  • At least half of a team’s members must have declared majors within the Hajim School.


  • Teams may consist of no more than five individuals and it is recommended to have at least two members on each team although an individual without team members is eligible to compete.
  • All deadlines for the current academic year are listed to the right.
  • The business plan must be in the idea, development, or start-up stage. Entries for a business that is already earning revenue will not be considered.
  • Teams that have previously won prizes in an Ain Center competition may not enter the same competition with the same venture a second time.


Cash prizes have been made possible by the generous endowment gift from Charles and Janet Forbes ’40.

  • 1st Place: $5,000
  • 2nd Place: $2,500
  • 3rd Place: $1,000

Only students listed in the Team Member section of the Competition Application will be eligible for any prize money awarded. Prize money will be split evenly among all team members listed in the application. No exceptions.

If a competition entry is based on work completed for a class AND if any student(s) who contributed to said work but are not taking part in the competition, they must provide written consent to the Ain Center stating that they consent to use of their work and forfeit any claims to any prize money won.

Cash prizes are not tax-exempt. International students may have additional holds; please contact ISO with any questions.


Students, individually or in teams, compete by submitting a business proposal for a manufacturing or technical business (often based on their senior design projects). Prize money is awarded for outstanding projects. Applications must be submitted online by clicking the Apply button to the right.

Mentors are available to students intending to compete in Forbes and meetings can be arranged by contacting the Ain Center at AinCFE@rochester.edu.

Competitors will develop business proposals for their manufacturing and/or technical ideas. Submissions must be received via the online application. Finalists will be invited to pitch at the competition event in late April or early May.

Applicants should be prepared to describe:

  • Company overview
  • Potential customers and target market
  • Value proposition
  • Market analysis and competition
  • Marketing, sales, and growth strategies
  • Company organization and management

Please contact Program Manager Heidi Mergenthaler with any questions about the application process.

2023 Winners

  • 1st Place: Piyata: Isaac Ayeyi Turkson ’23, Paterne Iradukunda ’23
  • 2nd Place: KidSafeAI: Nina Long ’24
  • 3rd Place: Penpal: Tamuda Chimhanda ’26, Samuel Henderson ’25, Alessio Simoya ’22

2022 Winners

  • 1st Place: Bio-Spire: Amanda Adams ’22, Anca Frasineau ’22, Tracey Moyston ’22, Tiana Salomon ’22, Maria Schapfel ’23
  • 2nd Place: Tilt on the Toilet: John Bates ’22, Chastity Chavez ’22, Madison Lang ’22, Alexander Rivera ’22, Camila Ruiz Vega ’22
  • 3rd Place: BuddyBank: Sidhant Bendre ’23, Neil Yeung ’23

2021 Winners

  • 1st Place: Advanced Growing Resources – Francis Pellegrino ’22; Heriniaina Rajaoberison ’22; Andrew Thankson ’22
  • 2nd Place: My Doctor – Mahin Ghani ’22
  • 3rd Place: Unim8  – Ayat Chowdhury ’22; Abdullah Kokash ’22; Qingjie Lu ’21; Goutham Swaminathan ’23

2020 Winners

  • 1st Place: Rent & Play – Ayat Chowdhury
  • 2nd Place: Lambda – Tolga Aktas, Enyxa Poventud, Jianyuan Zhong
  • 3rd Place: Yolo Shadow  – Xueying “Shelley” Chen, Kaixin Li, Abdul Moid Munawar, Yawo Alphonse Siatitse, Vanshika Singhania

2019 Winners

  • 1st Place: EZ Water – Afnan Ahmed, Syed Muhammad Miqdad, Claude Mulindi, Derrick Murekezi
  • 2nd Place: WetWare Systems – Nicholas Drogo, Andrew Kaseman, Scott McKinney, Oliver Ostriker, Bradley Smith
  • 3rd Place: HORN Empowers  – Emmanuel Gweamee, Amie Laurent Twizerimana, Terrikia Benjamin

2018 Winners

  • 1st Place: UR Connected – Allen Chen, Krista Pipho, Brandon Smart, Hetince Zhao
  • 2nd Place (TIE): BarterOut – Vlad Cazacu, Zixu Chen, Duncan Grubbs, Annmarie Hamburgen, Luis Nova
  • 2nd Place (TIE): HORN Empowers  – Maria Christina Gil Diaz, Paula Guerra, Emmanuel Gweamee, Amie Laurent Twizerimana
  • 2nd Place (TIE): Uptick – Sidhant Ahluwalia, Obed Badillo Moreno

2017 Winners

  • 1st Place: EcoFemina – Anis Kallel
  • 2nd Place: Proteus Medical – Chandler Woo, Edward Ruppel, Connor McBride
  • 3rd Place: Meliora Homes – Omar Soufan, Ibrahim Mohammad, Edgar Alaniz, Carlos “Yuki” Gonzalez

2016 Winners

  • 1st Place: Pollinate Publicity – Jeff Hrebenach, Morgan Mehring, Max Sims, Wilfred Wallis
  • 2nd Place (TIE): AnesthEZ – Syed Reefar Aziz, Rose Mbaye
  • 2nd Place (TIE): Scoliosis Brace Compliance – Marlen Mahendraratnam, Samuel Perakis

2015 Winners

  • 1st Place: Nullspace – Lucian Copeland, Alexander Matthers
  • 2nd Place: SimuClage – Isabella Cazacu, Brittanie Kilchoer, Jennifer Park, Melinda Vander Horst, Jacob Bohannon
  • 3rd Place (TIE): Blackout Games – Kedarnath Balaji Shashidhar, David Porter, Dan Hassin
  • 3rd Place (TIE): CampusFly – Ervis Vukaj, Rikesh Thapa, Nicholas Falcone, Charlie Kelman
  • 3rd Place (TIE): Teamo – Nick Brown, Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez, Anis Kallel

2014 Winners

  • 1st Place: UR DermMates – Kyle Fedorchak, Qihui (Fiona) Pu
  • 2nd Place: Hemo-Box – Courtney Astemborski, Chad Pickering
  • 3rd Place (TIE): Cognitive – Charlie Henick
  • 3rd Place (TIE): Ovlay – Joung Yoon (Felix) Kim

2013 Winners

  • 1st Place: Ovitz – Joung Yoon (Felix) Kim
  • 2nd Place (TIE): TrakOR – Sonja Page, Erin Schnellinger, Ankit Medhekar, W. Spencer Klubben, Matt Plakosh, Michael Nolan
  • 2nd Place (TIE): Formation 3D – Steven Trambert, Alex Feiszli, Eric Frank

2012 Winners

  • 1st Place: MonoMano – Travis Block, Sara Hutchinson, Dominic Marino, David Narrow, Martin Szeto
  • 2nd Place (TIE): Droplets, Inc. – Max Greenberg
  • 2nd Place (TIE): FloMaR – Margaret Fettis, Garrett Goss, Catherine Marando, Zachary Milstone, Kimberly Ornell

2011 Winners

  • 1st Place: OmNeo, LLC – Benjamin Freedman, Johanna Kelly
  • 2nd Place (TIE): DonDoff Solutions – Swapna Kumar, Jacy Bulaon, Frances Bell
  • 2nd Place (TIE): gluComfort – Elie Glik, Brett Sternfield, Zeyu Zhao
  • 3rd Place: Aegis Technology – Adam Kozak

2010 Winners

  • 1st Place: Arm EmBrace – Sara Ripp, Kerry Wang
  • 2nd Place: DPN Diagnostics – Nicole Telleri, Evan Vandegriff
  • 3rd Place: SimuMed Technologies – Justin Chang, Dan Mendelson

For Forbes winners from 1990 to 2009, visit the Hajim School website.

Application Deadline is April 18th!



Reach out to AinCFE@rochester.edu.

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Contact UR Ventures. UR Ventures has viable patents that can be used as the basis of a business idea.