Pitch Competition details

The Concept $5K Finals are held on the University of Waterloo campus three times a year. So take your chance today!

attend the Concept $5K Semi-Finals

Applications for Winter 2020 have closed.

New this term: Finalists will also be eligible for the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business Award. The award will provide one student team with access to two first-year engineering co-op students who can help them achieve short-term business objectives through a 7-week placement.

How to apply

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

Apply if:

  • You’re currently a full-time University of Waterloo undergraduate student, graduate student or postdoc
  • You have a tech-based idea or concept that could be turned into a startup
  • 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: Who is eligible to apply?

A: All University of Waterloo undergraduate students, graduate students and postdocs with a unique, tech-based idea are eligible to compete for a Concept $5K Grant. 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.

There is no general area of expertise required–your business can be a service or a product. Ideas must be tech-based and core to the business model but are not required to be aimed at any particular sectors.

In fact, you can simply pitch a great idea and business model, without actually having the product or service finalized. It’s a great way to get feedback and gain experience pitching to an audience.

Q: What should I include in my application?

Former judges wrote their 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.

BONUS: All Concept $5K Grant applicants will be invited on a fun bus tour from UWaterloo campus to the Velocity incubator (more details will be sent in your application confirmation email).

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.

However, there is a requirement to receive the funding:

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

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).


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