The Acara Challenge rewards student teams that are developing solutions to address global social and environmental challenges. Applications are accepted from students of all majors and in all stages of project development. Competition finalists receive mentorship on developing proposals and pitches, as well as support in refining their goals and creating a viable launch program.

Join us at the 2017 Acara Challenge Reception and Awards Ceremony at McNamara Alumni Center from 5:30 – 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 2. Please RSVP by February 24.

Get Involved!

  • Looking to be a student competitor? See below, and read through our 2017 Acara Challenge Guidelines and Rules. Note – Applications have closed for the 2017 Challenge.
  • Looking to be a mentor or competition judge? Contact us at
  • Like Acara’s Facebook page to keep up to date and see our work.
  • Still have questions? Contact

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.
  • Propose: Initial applications are due late January. (Application will open again in Fall 2017)
  • Practice:  Selected finalists meet with Acara mentors to refine their projects, work on their business plans and receive feedback on their business pitches.
  • Pitch: Selected finalists will be scheduled to present for a panel of judges on Tuesday February 28 or Wednesday March 1, 2017. Please save these dates if you plan to compete.

Acara Challenge Competitor Details

  • The competition is open to current degree-seeking University of Minnesota students (undergrad, grad, professional) from all system campuses. If you are a student from a different school, please contact us at to discuss your situation.
  • Each team must have at least 1 currently or recently registered student (1 or more students must be registered Fall 2016 or Spring 2017).
  • 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?