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NC State University to Host the 2021 ACC InVenture Prize Competition

ACC InVenture Prize host speaking on stage
ACC Inventure Prize 2017

The Ultimate Entrepreneurship Competition

Most of us think of sports teams when we hear ‘ACC’ – and rightly so. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is a collegiate athletic conference consisting of fifteen member universities in the eastern United States, spanning from Florida to New York.

But the ACC celebrates more than just student-athletes. The members of the ACC participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Consortium (ACCAC), a consortium that provides a vehicle for inter-institutional academic and administrative collaboration between member universities. Its mission is to promote the scholarly impact of faculty and the academic success and achievement of its students, including its student-entrepreneurs.

To that end, the ACCAC helps organize various academic initiatives, including the ACC InVenture Prize Competition – a Shark Tank-like innovation competition for teams of undergraduate students from ACC universities. Just like the ACC athletic competitions, the teams that represent each school during the ACC InVenture Prize Competition are considered to be among the top student entrepreneurs in the nation and should be very proud of the accomplishment.

This year, 13 of the 15 ACC schools have signed up for the competition and are sending their best student entrepreneurs to battle it out Shark Tank-style on April 21, 2021, at 7 p.m.

ACC Inventure Prize 2021


A Little Background on the Competition

2017 ACC Inventure Prize hosted by Georgia Tech University.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of the competition. The competition was first hosted by Georgia Tech in 2016 and it was established that each ACC school would serve as the host university for a term of 2 years. NC State University was selected to host the competition for the 2019 and 2020 academic years; however, due to COVID, the 2020 competition had to be canceled at the last minute. For the very first time since its inception, the ACC InVenture Prize is going virtual for 2021 and North Carolina State University will once again serve as the host university for the competition.

NC State was to host the competition in 2020 but unfortunately had to cancel it a few weeks short of the scheduled date due to the pandemic. “It was a tough decision to cancel the competition last year, but with travel restrictions and health concerns, it was impossible to fly all the competitors to Raleigh,” said Monica Smith, Marketing and Community Development Manager at NC State University. “We knew we could not cancel again this year, so we’ve worked hard to prepare a virtual competition that will showcase the innovation and resilience coming out of the ACC schools,” Smith stated. The competition will be broadcasted via various PBS stations across the ACC and via the ACC InVenture Prize website

Meet the Judges

Ravila Gupta photo
Ravila Gupta

Bob Young, serial entrepreneur and CEO of
Bob Young

Former New Orleans Saints star receiver, Marque Colston, CEO of Marques Colston Enterprises (MCE)
Marques Colston






Each year, three finalists judges are selected to judge the competition. This year NC State has selected three stellar judges. Ravila Gupta, CEO of Bagchi Group; Bob Young, serial entrepreneur and CEO of; and Former New Orleans Saints star receiver, Marques Colston, CEO of Marques Colston Enterprises (MCE).

The judging criteria will consist of four main categories:
  1. Idea: Idea validity, novelty, and potential social impact.
  2. Business Model: Value proposition, cost structure, key resources, customer discovery and validation (marketability, market size), and product or service development strength.
  3. Entrepreneurship: Future vision, team commitment and culture, team expertise and knowledge, and pitch delivery.
  4. Probability of Becoming a Success: Competitive advantage and probability of receiving investment.

2021 Competing Teams

Every year, each of the 15 Atlantic Coast Conference universities selects their very best student entrepreneurs to represent them and compete against other ACC schools. Below is the list of teams representing each of the 13 universities competing this year.

  1. Brave Virtual Worlds – University of Virginia
  2. DoseDEFENSE – University of Louisville
  3. EATS2SEATS – UNC – Chapel Hill
  4. GiveCard – Boston College
  5. LZRD Tech – Georgia Tech
  6. Medi-Kool – Florida State University
  7. Mound Power – University of Notre Dame
  8. munchlabs – University of Miami
  9. Nature’s Gift – Clemson University
  10. Reachable Solutions – University of Pittsburgh
  11. StudentSide – Duke University
  12. SugEx – Syracuse University
  13. UV Scope – NC State University

Prize Money and People’s Choice Voting

Teams will compete for $30,000 in cash prizes and the chance to be the next ACC InVenture Prize winner. First and second place receives $15,000 and $10,000 respectively and are chosen by the three industry judges; the People’s Choice Award winner receives $5,000 and is selected by a majority vote.

People will be able to watch all the pitches and cast their votes for their favorite pitch via the ACC Inventure Prize website on April 5 and April 6, 2021.

The competition will be broadcasted through PBS stations across the ACC on April 21, 2021, at 7 p.m. EDT. Tune in to find out who will be taking home cash prizes!

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