Rules, Eligibility & Prizes

Goal

The Rhode Island Business Competition has been organized to promote entrepreneurship and the development of start-up and early stage companies in Rhode Island by encouraging submission of plans of original business concepts that will lead to the development of new growth businesses.

The following rules apply:

Rules 

  1. Business plans may be submitted by individuals or by teams, but all applicants must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. There is no limit on the number of people on a team.
  3. Each unique business plan must be submitted in one track. 
  4. Any area of commercial endeavor is valid.
  5. All applications must be the original work of those making the submission.
  6. Applications must describe a new business or an early stage company.
  7. All semi-finalists must agree that, should they be chosen as a finalist or winner, they will use prize winnings to establish or continue operations that employ people in Rhode Island.
  8. Existing businesses may propose a new business that would have operations in Rhode Island.
  9. Partially completed applications will not be accepted. Online applications are due by 5 p.m. Eastern time (U.S.) on March 30, 2020.
  10. Applicants risk disqualification if they attempt to approach a judge, or have someone do that on their behalf, in connection with the competition.
  11. Finalists presenting to the judges on April 29, 2020, will bring a poster, measuring 24” x 30”, mounted on quarter-inch foam-core board, summarizing their plan, for display at an Awards Ceremony on May 6, 2020, in Providence.
  12. The decisions of the judges are final, including interpretation of the rules and allocation of prizes.

While business plans may be structured in any number of ways, the approach suggested here offers a concise format.

Need to know more? Check answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Eligibility

Applicants, 18 years of age or older may apply to the Rhode Island Business Competition. 

Prizes

Prizes consisting of cash and in-kind services, with a total value of at least $150,000, will be awarded to a winner and three finalists in the 2020 Rhode Island Business Competition. 

Also, everyone who submits a completed application to the 2020 Competition will receive two consecutive months of free co-working space for their team at Sprout Coworking in the Rising Sun Mills campus in Providence. Free parking and access to meeting space is included.

And all semi-finalists will receive free mentoring services from VMS of Rhode Island.

The bonus winner will automatically qualify as a semi-finalist in Get Started Rhode Island 2020, which will award prizes valued at $50,000.

In addition, finalists will have the opportunity to enter round two of judging in the highly competitive MassChallenge accelerator program -- and be one step closer to potentially joining the MassChallenge Rhode Island cohort.

Application and Judging Schedule

To participate in the Rhode Island Business Competition, applicants must complete and submit an online application by 5 p.m. Eastern time (U.S.) on March 30, 2020.

After reviewing the applications, the judges will invite semi-finalists from each track to submit complete business plans by April 14, 2020.

Semi-finalists will be selected from each track and will be invited to make a 5-minute presentation to the judges on April 22, 2020.

Finalists will be selected from semi-finalists and invited to a 25-minute meeting with the judges on April 29, 2020.

Winners will be announced at an Awards Ceremony on May 6, 2020.

See recommended guidelines for formatting business plans.