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An university-wide challenge held from February-March with a final pitch during Penn State’s Startup Week (March 28, 2018).

The challenge mentors student teams through the process of pitching their early-stage entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of industry experts.


Teams of 2-5 undergraduate students from multiple colleges identify an important problem that can be solved by digital innovation. Teams then receive mentorship from faculty, industry leaders, and experienced entrepreneurs for a chance to win prizes that advance their idea and professional network!


This is an idea pitch and not a business plan competition, so this is for teams in the early stages of figuring out how to solve a big problem.

A primary requirement is that the solution must leverage information technology as a key component of the business model.


Neal Vasan, Devin Arrigo, Cole Leff, and Tyler Brown

This 15-minute keynote will feature the winners from last year’s IdeaMakers 2017 Challenge who will talk about their experience and lessons-learned.
The speakers will address the student teams and audience while the judges deliberate and select the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams.



Undergraduate Students

Any undergraduate student currently enrolled and in good standing at Penn State is eligible to participate.

Teams of 2 to 5

Teams must have a minimum of 2 students and a maximum of 5. Teams can be new teams or existing teams who are already working on a problem, but you should still be in the preliminary exploration of that problem. Need help finding a team? See the TeamFinder page to request or search for teammates/ideas.

From at least 2 different colleges

To encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, teams should have members that represent at least 2 different colleges at Penn State. Are you a double major? Pick one college to represent.


Semi-Final "Rocket" Pitches

Each team will have 4 slides and 3 minutes to pitch their ideas with a very short Q&A with the judges. The top 5 teams will advance to the final round.

Mentor Pairing

Finalists will be paired with experienced entrepreneur and industry mentors who will help teams advance their ideas and prepare for final pitches.

Final Pitches

Finalists will have 5 minutes to pitch their ideas and 5 minutes to answer questions from the judges during Penn State's Startup Week event on Wed Mar 28, 4-6pm.


startup-512The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams will receive a prize,
which will be announced at the IdeaMakers Final Pitches!


Prizes will help teams build their professional network and advance their idea!


Top teams can be fast tracked through the application process for the summer program in the Happy Valley Launchbox accelerator.


teamDo you want to participate, but you don’t have a team?

Do you need team members from other colleges?

Don’t worry.

Check out our forum to find other interested students from across Penn State.


Find A Team



Applications open on Wed January 17 and are DUE by Friday February 2, 2018 @ midnight.

Apply Now

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2017 Contest Details Released

April 28, 2016April 28, 2016
The details for the 2017 Ideamaker Challenge have been released. Find out more here.

2016 Competition Concludes

April 28, 2016
The 2016 Ideamaker Challenge has come to an end, and here are the results!

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April 28, 2016
This is a test of the new news.