Desjardins Startup Prize
Awarding more than $100K in prizes to U of T’s most innovative entrepreneurs
Delivered by University of Toronto Entrepreneurship
The Desjardins Startup Prize is U of T’s annual business pitch competition offering over $100,000 in prizes to recognize, reward, and accelerate the University of Toronto’s most innovative startups.
Ten finalists will be selected to pitch their business idea in the 2023 Desjardins Startup Prize Pitch Competition taking place the week of March 6-10, as part of Entrepreneurship Week. The selected individuals or teams will compete by showcasing their startup via a five-minute pitch to a panel of investor judges.
The competition includes two categories for startups: Early Stage and Later Stage, based on funding raised by the venture. Three prizes are offered for each stage and finalists will have the opportunity to win an additional $4,000 with the Dongjun Wang Family True Blue Prize (People’s Choice). Please read the eligibility criteria in the “How it Works” section below to learn more about funding thresholds.
Early-Stage Prize: Startups must have received less than $50,000 in cumulative funding or investment, and less than $25,000 cumulative revenue as of the date of the Prize pitch competition.
- 1st place: $15,000
- 2nd place: $10,000
- 3rd place: $5,000
- People’s Choice: $4,000
Later-Stage Prize: Startups must have received between $50,000 and $250,000 cumulative funding or investment, and less than $100,000 in cumulative revenue as of the date of the Prize pitch competition.
- 1st place: $40,000
- 2nd place: $20,000
- 3rd place: $10,000
- People’s Choice: $4,000
How it works
- University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (UTE) community: At least one founder is a current full-time U of T student, post doc or a recent alum from a full-time program (i.e. graduated no earlier than July 2020).
- Affiliation with a U of T Accelerator is strongly encouraged.
- Open to all faculties and sectors.
- *Early-Stage Prize: Startups must have received less than $50,000 in cumulative funding or investment, and less than $25,000 cumulative revenue as of the date of the Prize pitch competition.
- **Later-Stage Prize: Startups must have received between $50,000 and $200,000 cumulative funding or investment, and less than $100,000 in cumulative revenue as of the date of the Prize pitch competition.
- Funding thresholds include equity funding, grants and previous prizes.
- Entrants must be able to present to the selection committee in-person the week of March 6-10, 2023; adjustments will be made as needed based on health & safety considerations.
- Startups are only eligible to compete as finalists once per category over the lifetime of the venture.
- Companies who are not yet incorporated may apply, however incorporation is required in order to receive the prize money.
- Primary applicant must complete U of T’s IP Education Level 1 course by November 30, 2022. For applicants who already have a strong foundation in their IP knowledge, completion of Level 1 can be replaced by completion of a Level 2 Topic. If you already have extensive knowledge or experience with IP matters and wish to take Level 2 without taking Level 1, please request a waiver of the Level 1 pre-requisite on the Level 2 Registration Forms by typing “UTE Startup Prize Application Waiver” in the field that asks “What date did you complete Level 1?”
October 17 – November 30, 2022
Competition entry window.
Please submit your application form before 5:00 pm on November 30, 2022.
Applications received after this time will not be considered.
Finalists notified and pitch preparation commences.
The 10 applicants selected to compete will be notified in January and encouraged to work with an advisor from one of U of T’s accelerators to help them prepare. Please note that UTE may assess Early-Stage startups in January 2022 and reserves the right to reclassify to Later Stage category based on the eligibility criteria.
march 6-10, 2023
Pitch competition and winner selection.
The competition will take place the week of March 6-10 with five startups competing for the Early Stage Prize and five for the Later Stage Prize. Each startup will present a five-minute pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs and investors followed by a five-minute Q & A from the panel.
At both the entry and competition day stages, the panel of judges will be evaluating the startup based on:
- Problem Identification / Opportunity: A clearly articulated and compelling value proposition
- Viability: Clear knowledge of the market and evidence of demand for the solution
- Growth potential: Sustainable and scalable business model
- Innovation: Unique solution, differentiated vs. competitors, including intellectual property considerations
- Talent: A strong team
- Communication skills: An effective and persuasive overall Executive Summary and pitch presentation
- Strategy & Financial Plan: How you plan to use the prize money
Please direct all questions regarding the 2023 Desjardins Startup Prize or application process to:
Business Services and Program Coordinator, University of Toronto Entrepreneurship
Subject line: Questions: Desjardins Startup Prize