UAlbany Innovation Scholarship Competition

   The UAlbany Innovation Scholarship competition is open to all students at the University at Albany. The purpose of the Scholarship it to help prepare teams for the UAlbany startup competition in April 2019, the NYS Business Plan competitions in March and April 2019, and to launch their venture. The Scholarship will provide up to $1,200 per team based on need, as well as in-kind services listed below. The major criteria for selection is how the team will leverage the funding and resources to advance their venture.

   The team must be majority owned and managed by a student(s) that will be graduating in Spring 2019 or later. The competition is open to ventures at any stage, from idea through acceleration. Teams that have previously received this scholarship are excluded.  The idea or venture can be of any type and of any industry. It may be technical or non-technical, a physical product, digital product, service, or any other.

Application process for the Innovation Scholarship:

  1. Submit an application by completing the application form: Scholarship

  2. The Blackstone LaunchPad team will select up to 10 teams to pitch to a panel of judges

  3. The Blackstone LaunchPad team makes final decision on which teams will receive the award.

  4. Multiple teams will be selected to receive the scholarship.

Selected teams must agree to the following:

  • Weekly meeting with advisors and/or cohort through the competitions

    • Including pitches with customer discovery/traction updates at each session

  • To conduct customer discovery interviews to develop and validate your business model

  • Participate in the UAlbany Startup and NYS B-Plan competitions

The UAlbany Scholarship Competition will award multiple teams up to $1,200 to advance their venture.  For example, funding may be used in the following ways:

  • $250 - $1,000 for customer discovery, marketing and advertising

  • $250 - $500 for materials and prototype/MVP development

  • $250 - $500 for resources and professional services

  • Selected teams shall immediately submit their “Use-of-Funds” form and W-9

Specific uses of funding may be:

  • Travel and food expenses to conduct customer discovery,

  • Material, equipment and/or software to develop and test a prototype or MVP

  • Gain traction through A/B testing, beta testing, or a pilot project

  • To attend entrepreneurial events (travel and registration expenses)

  • To attend industry trade shows and conferences (travel and registration expenses)

  • Resources such as hardware or software

  • Association membership

  • Professional expenses such as legal or accounting

  • Advertising fees such as Google AdWords, Facebook ads, or sponsored content on social medial platforms such as twitter and Instagram.

  • Design services

Scholarship awards will be paid out in stages and/or milestones:

  • $600 upon being selected

  • $600 when:

    • Completed predetermined number of customer discovery interactions

    • Calculated Total available market, service available market, and service obtainable market

    • Registration to qualifying competitions

  • Items that exceed the initial prize award will be considered on an individual basis.

In-kind services available to selected teams may include:

  • Startup Foundations 101 / IgniteU NY meetups and sessions

  • Pitch Practice

  • Accounting, Finance, and Legal support

  • Co-working space

  • Invite only group sessions and one-on-one coaching

  • Prototyping equipment / 3D printer

Weekly Advisor Sessions include:

  • Group coaching sessions – Cohort

  • Pitch development and preparation

  • Conducting proper customer discovery -

    • 10 customer discovery interviews shall be competed by the teams each week

  • Validate Problem – Problem statement and user stories

  • Business Model development and validation

  • Develop and test an MVP

  • Identifying and tracking key metrics

  • Total Addressable, Serviceable, Obtainable, Beachhead

  • Financial projections

  • Preparation for the UAlbany Startup Competition and NYS B-Plan Competition

  • Additional topics based on the needs of the cohort.

The teams pitch shall consist of:

  • What problem you are solving and how you discovered it.

  • What customer segments have this problem.

  • Your initial proposed solution, how it has evolved, and how might it change over time.

  • Your plan to test this solution

  • Why your team is best suited to solve this problem

  • Anticipated use of funds.

  • Immediate next steps and roadmap

  • Strengths and weaknesses of the team and immediate needs

  • Q & A session with the Judges

Additional funding of up to $3,000 to conduct costumer discovery may be available through the NSF Regional I-site program.