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UChicago Opens Its High-Profile NVC Accelerator to Alumni Startups

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

The University of Chicago wants to give its alumni network a chance to participate in its sought-after startup accelerator program.

UChicago’s New Venture Challenge, ranked among the top accelerator programs in the country, is launching an alumni track as part of its annual startup competition. Dubbed the Alumni New Venture Challenge (ANVC), the program will give graduates of UChicago the chance to tap into university resources, mentorship and the chance to compete in the school’s competition in May.

The ANVC will operate programming and semi-final startup competitions in five locations: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London and India. Top startups from each regional program will travel to Chicago to compete in the New Venture Challenge in the spring for the chance to win around $100,000 in seed funding, said Starr Marcello, executive director at UChicago’s Polsky Center.

“Over the years, we’ve had more and more alumni asking for ways to tap into the model of the New Venture Challenge to help them with their entrepreneurial ideas and their visions for how they want to create impact in the world,” she said. “We really wanted to see how we could grow and make that resource available to more people.”

The New Venture Challenge has helped launch some of Chicago’s most high-profile startups. Food delivery giant Grubhub, which has gone public and has a market cap of more than $10 billion, won the competition in 2006. Braintree, a digital payments company that acquired Venmo and was bought by PayPal for $800 million, won top honors at the NVC in 2007. Other recognizable Chicago startups that have gone through the accelerator include Simple Mills, Tovala, Foxtrot, InContext Solutions and LuminAID.


Since the program launched in 1996, UChicago says the NVC has helped launch more than 230 startups that have gone on to raise more than $915 million in funding and generate more than $13 billion in exits.

The ANVC is now the fifth track offered in the program, along with the traditional NVC, which is open to UChicago graduate students; the Social NVC, which is for UChicago graduate students working on companies with a social impact mission; the Global NVC, which is designed for Chicago Booth Executive MBA students in Chicago, Hong Kong, and London; and the College NVC, which is open to UChicago undergrads. UChicago takes an equity stake in the companies that receive seed funding in the program.

UChicago is looking for alumni startups that are early stage, less than five years old, and are doing less than $1 million in revenue. The goal is to give graduates who didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the startup accelerator while they were in school a chance to still take advantage of the resources, mentorship, connections and funding available at the university, Marcello said.

“This is a great way for them to connect back to the school and to really leverage the resources that have grown here on campus while they’ve been away,” she said.


Source: UChicago Opens Its High-Profile NVC Accelerator to Alumni Startups

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