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Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition

Prizes to Arkansas Postsecondary Students for
Participating in an Entrepreneurial Competition

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Arkansas Capital - Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

02/28/21 11:59 PM


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Prizes to Arkansas undergraduate and graduate student teams for participating in a statewide entrepreneurial competition. Applicants must submit an intent to compete prior to submitting a business plan. Teams may be composed of students representing any degree track. The competition is designed 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.

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.

Beginning this year, there will be only two competition divisions: High Growth/Technology and Small Business.

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 high potential for growth. The proposed business could be for ventures related, but not limited to, agriculture, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, transportation, energy, conservation, gaming, etc.

Small Business: his 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.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 176949

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Students and advisors for the top three winning teams in both divisions will share a $100,000 cash prize pool.

High Growth/Technology Division:
- First Place $25,000
- Second Place $15,000
- Third Place $10,000

Small Business/Lifestyle Division:
- First Place $15,000
- Second Place $10,000
- Third Place $5,000

Elevator Pitch:
- High Growth/Technology Winner $2,000
- Small Business Winner $2,000

Advisor Awards:
- $2,500 to winning team advisors $15,000

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Current full- or part-time, degree-seeking Arkansas college and university students who want to explore a business idea or simply learn more about entrepreneurship are invited to compete in the 21st annual Governor’s Cup competition.

Competition Rules:
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 2020, and/or 2021 spring semesters.
3. Students who graduated with a certificate or degree during the 2020 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. Students cannot compete on more than one team, and teams/students cannot enter more than one business plan into the competition.

For additional eligibility information, see:

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:

Teams must submit an “Intent to Compete” and the Team Introduction Video by 11:59 PM on Friday, February 21, 2021. Business plans are due by February 28 at 11:59 PM.

For information about the Team Introduction Video, see:

Twelve teams from each division will be selected in Round 1 to compete in Round 2, the semifinals. Six teams from each division will be selected to compete in the final round, with three teams chosen as the first-, second-, and third-place winners for both divisions. All three rounds will have a different set of judges. Each of the six finalist teams will choose one representative to make a :90 pitch during the awards presentation,

- January 11, 2021, 8:00 a.m.: Team application window opens online in YouNoodle
- February 21, 11:59 p.m.: Intents to Compete due in YouNoodle. Team introduction videos due via the upload link in YouNoodle applications
- February 28, 11:59 p.m: Business plans due in YouNoodle
- Week of March 1: Round 1 begins; written plans assigned to judges via YouNoodle for scoring and feedback. Online announcement of 2021 competitors at (date and time TBA)
- March 11-12: Round 1 judges’ deliberations
- March 15, Noon: Announcement of Round 2 semifinalists (12 per division) at Round 1 judges’ feedback forwarded to semifinalist teams’ leaders and advisors.
- March 21, 11:59 p.m.: Revised semifinalist business plans due in YouNoodle
- Week of March 22: Semifinalist business plans assigned to Round 2 judges for review
- March 29: Semifinalist location testing – to be scheduled with teams by Arkansas Capital
- March 30, Noon: Team member and advisor tax forms due. Semifinalist location testing – to be scheduled with teams by Arkansas Capital
- April 1: Round 2 semifinalist virtual oral presentations and judges’ deliberations (virtual). Announcement of finalists (six teams per division) at
- April 2: Round 3 finalist virtual oral presentations and judges’ deliberations to determine first, second, and third place winners for each division.
- April 8, Noon: Virtual, live Awards Presentation with Elevator Pitch competition for division finalists. followed by the announcement of winners.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

Direct questions to
Marie Bruno
Arkansas Capital

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Arkansas

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