Chicago Booth's New Venture Challenge will award $500,000 to student startups

New contributions from the Pritzker Group and the University of Chicago Innovation Fund more than double the amount awarded to students competing in the annual startup program

University of Chicago Booth School of Business students participating in the Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) program this May will compete for $250,000 in seed funding thanks to new contributions from the Pritzker Group and the University of Chicago Innovation Fund.

"We are excited to offer these additional resources to our aspiring entrepreneurs," said Ellen Rudnick, '73, executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. "This more than doubles last year’s funding awards."

In addition to the $250,000 in cash awards, teams will also receive in-kind awards, such as office space and business services, estimated at approximately $250,000 from additional program sponsors.

"We have been impressed by the caliber of businesses that have emerged from the school's entrepreneurial programs, including the New Venture Challenge," remarked Gabe Greenbaum of Pritzker Group Venture Capital. "We look forward to having two of the NVC finalists join the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows program this summer, where those companies will have direct access to our investment team and our network."

Launched in 1996, and currently in its 19th year, the NVC is the premier startup launch program at Chicago Booth. The program is run by the Polsky Center and was endowed in 2012 by Booth alumnus Edward L. Kaplan, founder of Zebra Technologies.

The NVC has helped launch more than 100 companies. Notable NVC participants include Braintree, which was acquired by PayPal in 2013 for $800 million; GrubHub, which completed an IPO in April 2014 and whose market cap exceeds $3 billion; and Bump Technologies, which was acquired by Google in 2013.

"The NVC program at Booth is more than a business plan competition," explained Steve Kaplan, faculty director of the Polsky Center and Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at Booth. "It is a business launchpad program that, for the past 19 years, has pioneered many of the same elements that today are built into most accelerator programs."

"The businesses coming out of the Polsky Center's NVC are primed for success precisely because of the intensity and rigor that each student team endures during the NVC class," said Jason Pariso, director of operations for the Innovation Fund who gained firsthand experience as a NVC participant when he was a student at Booth. "Our goal in funding this investment, along with offering the winning team complimentary incubation at the Chicago Innovation Exchange, is to help accelerate that growth and success."

About the Polsky Center

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Chicago Booth provides immersive, experiential education and venture creation resources for UChicago students and alumni who are interested in entrepreneurship, private equity, venture capital, and taking their existing businesses to the next level. The Polsky Center’s premier start-up launch program, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), is designed to help student teams turn their ideas into viable businesses. Launched in 1996, and currently in its 19th year, the NVC now includes four tracks: Traditional, Social, Global, and College, which offer tailored programming to meet the needs of UChicago’s diverse student body. Learn more about the Polsky Center at: and the NVC at:

About Pritzker Group Venture Capital

Pritzker Group Venture Capital is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs achieve greatness. Since 1996, we have invested in more than 100 technology companies, at every stage of growth, across the U.S. We work side by side with entrepreneurs, aiming to build a partnership based on both trust and integrity. Created in 2013, the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows program aims to help talented student entrepreneurs with the early funding and mentorship needed to launch their startup. Learn more at:

About the University of Chicago Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund invests in early business development and proof-of-concept work for ventures created by faculty, students, and staff at the University. The Chicago Innovation Exchange manages the $20 million Innovation Fund in partnership with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the University’s Center for Technology and Ventures, UChicagoTech. The Fund focuses on commercializing early stage research and supporting emerging companies from the University and its affiliate labs. Learn more at:


Media contacts:

Susan Guibert, Chicago Booth: 773-702-9232 /

Micheline Pergande, Polsky Center: 773-702-7732 /

Cari Wafford, Pritzker Group Venture Capital: 312-447-6000 /

Nikki Kidd, UChicago Innovation Fund: 773-834-8137 /