Rules, Eligibility & Prizes


The Rhode Island Business Plan 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 in Rhode Island.

The following rules apply:


  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 April 2, 2018.
  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 May 2, 2018, will bring a poster, measuring 24” x 30”, mounted on quarter-inch foam-core board, summarizing their plan, for display at an Awards Ceremony in May 2018 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.


Applicants, 18 years of age or older, may compete in one of the following tracks:

  1. Entrepreneur track — Open to any entrepreneur or would-be entrepreneur, 18 years of age or older.
  2. Student track — Open to any student, 18 years of age or older, enrolled in and attending an accredited college or university at the undergraduate or graduate level. All key members of the team must be students.

Learn more about the competition tracks.


Prizes consisting of cash and in-kind services, expected to exceed $200,000 in value, will be awarded to winners and finalists in the 2018 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. Details to be announced. 

Also, everyone who submits a completed application to the 2018 Competition will receive two consecutive months of free co-working space for their team at Sprout in the Rising Sun Mills campus in Providence. Free parking and access to meeting space is included.

In addition, the judges will select either the Entrepreneur Track Winner or the Student Track Winner to enter round two of judging in the highly competitive MassChallenge accelerator program -- and be one step closer to potentially joining the inaugural MassChallenge Rhode Island cohort.  

All finalists in the 2018 Competition will present at an Awards Ceremony in May 2018, exact date to be determined, after which the winners will be announced. 

Application and Judging Schedule

To participate in the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, applicants must complete and submit an online application by 5 p.m. Eastern time (U.S.) on April 2, 2018.

After reviewing the applications, the judges will invite semi-finalists from each track to submit complete business plans by April 17, 2018.

Semi-finalists will be selected from each track and will be invited to make a 5-minute presentation to the judges on April 25, 2018.

Finalists will be selected from semi-finalists and invited to a 25-minute meeting with the judges on May 2, 2018.

Winners will be announced at an Awards Ceremony in May.

See recommended guidelines for formatting business plans.