The Tibetan Innovation Challenge is an intercollegiate social entrepreneurship business plan contest, organized by the University of Rochester, intended to improve the lives of Tibetans living in refugee camps in India. 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.



Tibetan refugees living in India face many economic difficulties (view background on Tibetans living in India), which this competition hopes to mitigate by empowering Tibetans to take greater control of their own economic futures. Teams of students from colleges and universities develop practical business ideas for Tibetan refugees to implement within their communities, with the goal of creating enterprises that will have a meaningful and positive long-term economic impact. Business ideas and insights contributed by student teams could help foster the launch of successful enterprises. The best ideas will be replicable within similar communities and populations in other parts of the world.



Round 1: Students submit a proposal for the qualifying round in April 2017. Submissions are evaluated by a panel of judges to select the finalists.

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.



All submitted business plans are provided to the Tibetan community and any of the plans may be used to form new Tibetan business ventures. These enterprises will be partially financed by the Tibet House in London and The Art of Peace Foundation. 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.

This competition has great potential to improve the lives of a population struggling with extreme difficulties and challenges, as well as serve as a replicable model for similar social entrepreneurship competitions and a mechanism to implement social entrepreneurship ideas. The Tibetan Innovation Challenge will connect the brightest, most innovative minds from the nation’s top colleges and universities with underserved populations who stand to benefit from their ideas. We intend to establish the Tibetan Innovation Challenge as a global model for intercollegiate coordination and the development of university-borne innovation in social entrepreneurship.


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