Acara Challenge

The Acara Challenge is an annual competition to fund students that are developing solutions to address social and/or environmental challenges. Applications are accepted from students of all majors and in all stages of project development from all UMN campuses. Competition finalists receive mentorship on developing proposals and pitches, as well as support in refining their goals and creating a viable launch program.

Winners of the Acara Challenge can win up to $5000 to pay for expenses related to developing their solutions as well as a $500 prize. All winners receive intensive coaching and training to support them to be successful.

Read more about the 2017 Acara Challenge Gold Winners here.

Get Involved!

Ready to compete in the Acara Challenge?

  • Prepare: Our courses provide valuable background in the art of turning ideas into reality. These are not required but will provide a great foundation for your competition entry. If you would like to meet with an Acara staff person before completing your application, please feel free to e-mail to schedule a meeting.
  • Propose: The 2018 Application deadline has passed.
  • Practice:  Selected finalists meet with Acara mentors to refine their projects, work on their venture plans and presentations.
  • Pitch: Selected finalists are scheduled to present for a panel of judges and then will give a short pitch at the Acara Challenge Reception and Prize Ceremony.

Acara Challenge Competitor Details

  • The competition is open to current degree-seeking University of Minnesota students (undergrad, grad, professional) from all UMN campuses.
  • Each team must have at least 1 currently or recently registered student (1 or more students must be registered Fall 2017 or Spring 2018).
  • Any team with an idea or operational early stage intervention/idea/business/solution that addresses a grand challenge issue may participate.

  • Acara Challenge Cash Awards up to $500.
  • Invitation to apply for an Acara Venture Fellowship of up to $5,000 per team for additional pilot expenses.

All teams will be judged by an investor-like panel. The judging criteria is:

  • What is the problem?
  • How are you sustained?
  • What is the social impact?
  • How does it scale?
  • Who is the team?