Pitch Competition details

The Concept $5K Finals are held three times a year. Online or in person, we will crown winners, so take your chance today!

See the $5K Finalist Pitches

Have an idea you would like to pitch but not sure if you should apply?

Eligibility Requirements

  • You’re currently a University of Waterloo undergraduate student, graduate student or postdoc
  • You have an idea or concept that has the potential to be turned into a scalable startup (i.e. it has big market and high growth potential).
  • You and your idea/team haven’t received $50K or more in funding (e.g. from grants, Velocity Fund Pitch Competition)
  • You want to meet cool people and have lots of fun!


Q: I’m not building a robot or an app, can I still apply?

A: For sure! Startups don’t all build robots and apps. The common thread that ties tech startups together is that they all leverage technology to build highly scalable businesses that serve big ($$) markets. What form that technology takes could be hardware, software, or science. Your startup can sell a service or a product and can work in any industry!

Q: Do I need to be a part of a team to apply?

A: You can either apply individually or with a team. However, only one person can pitch on-stage during the $5K Semi-Finals and Finals and the person pitching must be a current University of Waterloo student. An idea/team can only win a Concept $5K Grant once.

Q: Is my idea too early for Concept $5k?

A: Short answer – you’re never too early to apply! The very exercise of going through the application process can be valuable in getting you to think about your business in a different way and participating (even if you don’t win) is a great way to get feedback and gain experience pitching to an audience.

Curious how far along past winning ideas have been? Check out past finalist pitches. Still not sure? Book a 1:1 coaching session and ask one of our coaches!

Q: What should I include in my application?

We spoke to our application review team and gathered tips on submitting a successful application, and it is considered a must-read for anyone applying. We highly encourage applicants to attend the Intro Session: Pitch to Win after their application has been submitted. At the workshop, you will be shown different components of a three-minute business pitch, and have the chance to practice in front of your peers and receive helpful feedback.

Q: Do you have to compete in the $5K Semi-Finals to participate in the $5K Finals competition?

A: Yes. No steps can be skipped on the road to glory!

Q: If I win, do I have to pay back the $5,000?

A: Nope! The $5,000 is a grant for you/your team to use to continue developing your concept into a startup and take it to the next level!

Note: Student teams can only win a Concept $5K Grant once.

Q: Do i have to be incorporated to win a Concept 5K Grant?

A: No you do not. You just need to prove your team/concept is worthy of the grant and can use it to advance your idea.

Q: Can I apply if I am on a Co-op term?

A: Yes you can!

Q: What’s the difference between the Concept $5K Grant and the Velocity Fund Pitch Competition?

A: The Concept $5K Grant (prev. known as Velocity Fund Finals $5K) supports University of Waterloo students who want to build or aspire to build an early-stage startup. As an individual or as part of a small team, these students are looking to gain experience and receive feedback from the greater startup community. Any University of Waterloo student from any faculty can showcase their work at the Concept $5K Finals, once they have qualified at one of the $5K Semi-Finals.

In comparison, the Velocity Fund Pitch Competition provides early-stage funding to startups (no academic affiliation to the University of Waterloo required) to get their product off the ground. The business must be tech-based and a working prototype is strongly encouraged. When a team wins, they should have a fully formed, cohesive team ready to execute on the business. The $50K investment is not a grant, but rather an investment in the business (to be paid back at a later date).


Not ready to apply just yet?

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