Chicago Booth's New Venture Challenge named a top accelerator program in the nation

The premier start-up program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), was named a top accelerator program in the U.S. today at South by Southwest

The NVC, which is run by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Chicago Booth, ranked #4 in research released by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Program. Independent accelerator programs Angelpad, MuckerLab, and Techstars landed in the top three. Stanford University’s StartX, which ranked #6, was the only other university accelerator program listed in the top 10.

"This ranking puts a spotlight on university accelerator programs," said Steve Kaplan, faculty director of the Polsky Center and Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at Booth. "For the past 19 years, our NVC program has pioneered many of the same elements found in most accelerator programs today."

This was the first year university accelerators were included in the annual research conducted by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. Accelerators are defined as a fixed-term, cohort-based program that includes mentorship, educational components, and culminates in a public pitch event or demo day. Both independent and university accelerators meeting this definition were asked to submit information on companies that participated in their accelerator program between 2005 and 2014.

"We always knew university accelerator programs provided great educational opportunities for entrepreneurs," said Yael Hochberg, managing director of the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, and Ralph S. O’Connor associate professor of entrepreneurship and academic director for Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business. "By including universities in our research, our goal is to offer insights for the community and measure the impact and success these university programs provide."

Notable NVC participants included in the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project research were Braintree, which was acquired by PayPal in 2013 for $800 million; GrubHub, which completed an IPO in April 2014 and whose market cap exceeds $3.8 billion; Bump Technologies, which was acquired by Google in 2013; and Simple Mills, which raised a seed round from Hyde Park Angels in July 2014.

"We are very proud of the work that goes into supporting our student entrepreneurs," said Ellen Rudnick, '73, executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. "In May 2016, we will mark a milestone as we celebrate 20 years of our NVC program."

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 the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project aims to begin a larger conversation about what makes seed accelerators successful and to provide entrepreneurs with a tool to help them decide which seed accelerators are a good match for their startup. Confidential data provided by accelerator programs and accelerator alumni are incorporated into the evaluation process. The rankings team is led by Yael Hochberg, Susan Cohen, and Dan Fehder. All three are former entrepreneurs turned academics and are considered among the leading research experts on accelerators and their efficacy. The project is an outgrowth of the original accelerator rankings study conducted by Aziz Gilani, Kelly Quann, and Yael Hochberg in 2010. For more information about the project, go to



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

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