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Opportunity for Arkansas Postsecondary Students to Participate in an Entrepreneurial Competition

Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition

GrantWatch ID# 176949
Agency: Foundation

Funding Source
Arkansas Capital - Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF)
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Geographic Focus
USA: Arkansas

Important Dates
Deadline: 02/12/23 11:59 PM Save

Grant Description
Opportunity for Arkansas undergraduate and graduate student teams to compete for prizes in a statewide entrepreneurial contest. Applicants must submit an intent to compete prior to submitting a business plan. The competition is intended to increase student appreciation for the challenges associated with developing a viable business offering (product or service) while recognizing the students who are best able to articulate a plan that addresses these challenges. Competition events will be held virtually. Teams may be composed of students representing any degree track.

Arkansas Capital of Little Rock launched the Arkansas Governor’s Cup in 2001 to:

  • Promote and support college students in their entrepreneurial endeavors and new venture creation;
  • Encourage commercialization of promising ideas emerging from colleges and universities;
  • Build bridges between the collegiate institutions and the entrepreneurial community; and,
  • Become one of the premier business plan competitions in the United States.

Competition divisions: 

High Growth/Technology: This division will be for business plans with truly unique ideas and technologies that demonstrate a potentially disruptive market impact with strong viability and a high potential for growth. The proposed business could be for ventures related to, but not limited to, agriculture, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, transportation, energy, conservation, gaming, etc.

Small Business/Lifestyles: This division is for business plans that are more “Main Street,” customer-facing operations, such as retail operations; hospitality ventures; services such as those industries related to automotive, household, construction, beauty, travel/tourism; etc.

For both divisions, the best business ideas will continue to be those that:

  • Improve or replace business processes to increase efficiency and productivity, or enable the business to extend the range or quality of existing products and/or services;
  • Develop entirely new and improved products and services – often to meet rapidly changing customer or consumer demands or needs;
  • Add value to existing products, services, or markets to differentiate the business from its competitors and increase the perceived value to customers/target markets.


  • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)

Additional Eligibility Criteria
Division Tracks
- The High-Growth Technology Division will have an undergraduate and a graduate track.
- The Small Business/Lifestyles Division is open to all students, regardless of academic level.

1. The Arkansas Governor’s Cup is open to any full- or part-time, certificate- or a degree-seeking student currently enrolled at any of Arkansas’s accredited; not-for-profit; two- or four-year public, private, or independent colleges, and universities.
2. Current enrollment is defined as enrollment in a certificate- or degree-seeking program of study during the summer/fall 2022, and/or 2023 spring semesters.
3. Students who graduated with a certificate or degree during the 2021 summer/fall semesters are eligible to compete.

Teams may be composed of
- Graduate and undergraduate students
- Students from any academic discipline – agriculture, business, education, engineering, health, science, tourism, etc.; team members may represent a mix of these disciplines
- Students from more than one college and/or university

Teams may include non-student members. However, these individuals cannot make up the majority of the team and cannot take part in any team presentations. Team size is limited to a maximum of six students.

For additional eligibility information, see:

Students cannot compete on more than one team, and teams/students cannot enter more than one business plan into the competition.

The business should not have received more than $200,000 in equity-related capital (such as seed capital or institutional funding) or generated more than $100,000 in gross revenue prior to the current academic year. Revenue generated during a test-marketing project may be excluded from this provision. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.

For additional information about Business Plan eligibility, see:

Pre-Application Information
- January 3: YouNoodle database opens
- February 3 – 11:59 p.m.: Team applications created in YouNoodle
- February 12 – 11:59 p.m.: Business plans and team showcase videos due
- March 1 Round 1: Small Business/Lifestyles Division judges deliberate and decide on six finalists
- March 2 Round 1: High Growth/Technology Division judges deliberate and decide on six finalists for each track
- March 3 – 12:00 p.m.: Team video showcase, finalist announcement posted; finalists are emailed judges’ feedback by 5:00 p.m.
- March 9 – 11:59 p.m.: Revised business plans, W-9 tax forms due
- March 16: Round 2 Oral Presentations
- April 7 Awards Luncheon: Fayetteville Public Library Event Center

There are two rounds to the Governor’s Cup:
- Round 1 – Written
- Round 2 – Oral Presentations

Finalists may or may not choose to use Round 1 feedback to update their plans for Round 2 judges. If they choose to revise, plans must be uploaded into the team’s YouNoodle application by March 9. For information about Round 2 presentations, see:

Additional Funding Information

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant
High Growth/Technology Division – Graduate Track:
- First Place $20,000
- Second Place $10,000
- Third Place $7,500

High Growth/Technology Division – Undergraduate Track:
- First Place $20,000
- Second Place $10,000
- Third Place $7,500

Small Business/Lifestyle Division:
- First Place $10,000
- Second Place $7,500
- Third Place $5,000

Elevator Pitch:
- High Growth/Technology - Graduate: $1,000
- High Growth/Technology - Undergraduate: $1,000
- Small Business/Lifestyles: $1,000

Advisor Awards: $1,500 to winning team advisors $13,500

Contact Information
Apply online:

Direct questions to
Marie Bruno
Arkansas Capital

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