Student finalist teams
Open to any NH college student
Cash prizes with NEW categories
What is the NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge?
The NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge was founded by the University of New Hampshire in 2013 in partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner, and father of the microfinance movement, Professor Muhammad Yunus, who was also the inaugural keynote speaker, attracting over 700 people, and serving as the inspiration for the UNH Social Innovator of the Year Award. It has become an annual signature event which powerfully demonstrates the keen interest of students and community entrepreneurs and activists in helping address some of society’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, and their creativity in designing novel, sustainable, business-orientated solutions.
The SVIC invites students (as individuals or in teams of up to 5 members) from across the state to identify pressing social, environmental or economic issues at the state, national or global level, and develop innovative, sustainable, business-oriented ideas to solve them.
This is an IDEA competition and an excellent applied learning project; no detailed business plans or financials needed. Contestants write a 2-page paper and create a 3-minute video explaining an innovative solution to the problem identified. All of the rules, eligibility and judging criteria, important dates, prizes and resources can be found below.
Thank you to our 2021 SVIC sponsors!
We have plenty of materials, activities and other supports to help you integrate the SVIC into your curriculum! Make an appointment to learn more.
Community Changemaker Challenge - the annual idea competition for high school students.
2021 SVIC Keynote Speaker & Social Innovator of the Year:
Tulaine Montgomery, Co-CEO of New Profit, Inc.
Bridging the Resource Gap for Entrepreneurs to Transform America’s Most Inequitable System
Watch the keynote
“I honestly thought this was just an idea competition, but it has grown so much from there and it’s just been so exciting to see the progress. It’s almost like everything I thought wouldn’t happen is happening, which is great news."
~ Holly Proulx, UNH 2021 | Environmental Engineering ; My Green Plate 2020 SVIC Winner
Watch the inaugural SVIC keynote by Professor Muhammad Yunus:
All the Competition Details
All contestants will identify any social, environmental or economic problem, create a 2-page summary and 3-minute video explaining the problem and an innovative, sustainable, business-oriented idea to solve it and submit their materials online by the submission deadline.
After the submission deadline, all contestant's entries will be reviewed and scored by a large panel of online judges using our Judges' Rubric during the Preliminary Round. The top 9 finalist teams will advance to the Final Round.
On the day of the Finals, finalists teams will present and pitch their idea to a panel of Final Round judges who will score using the same Judges' Rubric and will determine the award prizes.
Immediately following the Final Round presentations, we'll hear from our Keynote speaker, the Social Innovator of the Year, and prizes will be announced at the conclusion of the day.
|Accepting Entries||Monday||May 3, 2021||10am EST|
|Deadline to submit entries||Monday||November 8, 2021||NOON EST|
|Finalists announced (all contestants will be notified)||Friday||November 19, 2021||NOON EST||
|Presentation Coaching available for Finalists||Monday
November 22, 2021 –
SVIC Final Round Presentations* (virtual)
SVIC Keynote Address & Awards* (virtual)
December 2, 2021
December 2, 2021
9 - 11:15 a.m.
12:30 - 2 p.m.
The SVIC is open to any current full-time or part-time matriculated student (undergraduate or graduate level) enrolled in any New Hampshire university or college.
Students may enter as individuals or as teams (no more than 5 on a team).
Students may enter more than one idea in the competition, but will need to submit each idea using different email addresses, as our online system does not allow more than one entry per email address.
All entries must:
1. Be in one of the following stages of development:
- a new initiative/idea
- an existing early-stage social venture (less than one year old)
- a major new social entrepreneurial initiative for an established venture
2. Meet the criteria of a "social venture":
- an innovative solution to a defined social or environmental problem facing New Hampshire, the region, the nation, or the world.
- aim to be market-based and aspire to be as fully financially self-sustaining as possible through earned revenues and profits, decreasing the reliance on grants or donations
- harness the best of market-based approaches, but have a primarily social, rather than financial, objective.
In order to compete in the SVIC, teams must agree to the following:
- Complete the online forms: Step 1: SVIC Connect Form. Once SVIC Connect form has been completed, you will be emailed a custom link to Step 2: the Submission Application Form.
- Submit all entry materials through the Submission Application Form by Monday, November 8, 2021, NOON EST.
- If selected to advance to the Final Round by the Preliminary Round Judges, finalist teams must commit to present to our panel of Final Round Judges during the Final Round on Thursday, December 2, 2021 (9-11:15 a.m.), and be present for the live SVIC Keynote & Awards Presentation on Thursday, December 2, 2021 (12:30-2 p.m.). Winners will be announced during the Awards Presentation.
- Certify that you own, or have the owner's permission to use/present, all intellectual property utilized in your entry materials, including any technology.
- Agree to allow all submission materials, team members' names, description of your entry, photos of your team and video footage of your presentation from the Final Rounds to be used on the Social Venture Innovation Challenge website and in future publicity, including social media.
- Agree to abide by UNH/USNH IT and Acceptable Use Policies.
- For winners, the cash prize amount will be divided equally to each team member listed on your registration form, unless written permission is provided by each team member for an alternative distribution of funds.
Finalist requirements for the Final Round:
- A maximum of two (2) representatives from each finalist team are allowed to present, although other team members are encouraged to attend and answer questions during Q&A.
- The two team members representing each finalist team are required to meet the morning of December 2nd (8:30 a.m.) with our staff prior to presenting to the judges for check-in and sound/video quality check.
- The two members representing each finalist team are also required to be in attendance for the Keynote Address and Award Presentations .
- Each team will have a total of five (5) minutes to introduce their team members and play their video and speak in front of a panel of the Final Round Judges.
- The Final Round judges will have five (5) minutes for Q&A with each team following their presentation.
Contestants must prepare two components as part of their entry, a 2-page summary and a 3-minute video and upload them during the Submission Application step. Submissions will be judged partially on the viability of the initial proposal; that is, fully developed business plans are not to be submitted and are not within the scope of the competition.
A written summary "pitching" your idea which solves the identified social, environmental or economic issue. Your summary will be one of two key components of your entry and will be reviewed by judges in both rounds of the competition. This document gives you the chance to expand a little more on some of the important components and key concepts found in your three-minute video.
Summary technical specifications:
- PDF uploaded to the Submission Application form (Name the document the SVIC Idea Name)
- Strict maximum of 2 pages (not including citations)
- 12 pt. font, Times New Roman
- margins 1 inch or more
The video is the primary tool for summarizing the nature and scale of the problem you want to address and for "selling" the innovativeness and effectiveness of your social venture solution. (View the Video Production Workshop and see the additional Support & Resources section below to create your video.)
Video technical specifications:
- .mov or .mp4 file, uploaded to YouTube (see instructions within the Submission Application form)
- Strict maximum of 3 minutes and no larger than 1GB
Please read the instructions for preparing your video to submit carefully.
- Create a YouTube account (if you don't already have one).
- Upload your video (click on the "Upload Videos" link and instructions will drop down.)
- Make sure to set the privacy settings for the video as "unlisted" and save, so that your idea is not out in the public eye until the big day!
- Then copy the URL from the browser address bar and paste it in the Video URL section of the Submission Application form.
IMPORTANT VIDEO NOTES:
1. All entrants are encouraged to contact UNH’s Parker Media Lab (PML) with questions about video formatting. PML is located in the Dimond Library on UNH’s Durham Campus. It is staffed and open:
- Sunday-Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Saturdays 12-4:00 p.m.
You can contact them for advice by phone at (603) 862-1747 to speak with any of the staff team, or by email to reach PML’s manager, Micheal McIntire.
2. Public domain videos, photos or other content can be included in your three-minute video. Written permission is required for all copyrighted and protected source materials.
Both the Preliminary and Final Round Judges will take into consideration the 5 categories (equally weighted) in the Scoring Rubric. The strongest 9 entries determined by the Preliminary Round Judges will go on to the Final Round. Finalists will be eligible to win cash and prizes as determined by the Final Round Judges.
Judges will award prizes after the SVIC Keynote.
One winning team in each category (teams may win multiple categories):
- Most well-articulated problem | $2500
- Most original innovation | $2500
- Most impact potential | $2500
- Most financially sustainable solution | $2500
- Most impactful story to engage stakeholders | $2500
- Best overall first-year student submission | $250 (awarded to an individual or team comprised of first-years)
Audience Choice Awards:
- First place | $1000
- Second place | $750
- Third place | $500
Cash, gift cards and gift certificates of any amount are taxable when provided to a recipient, regardless of classification as an award, gift or prize.
Submit the SVIC Connect form.
Contestants must first submit the SVIC Connect form (by Nov. 8). This is a simple form and an “intent to compete only" step. There is no obligation to submit a final entry, and it will allow you to receive important updates, event information and helpful resources to guide your entry.
IMPORTANT! Please note: Once you complete the SVIC Connect form, you will be sent an email with a custom link to the next step in the application process (the Submission Application form). Check your "spam/junk/other" folders if you do not see it in your inbox). Please save this link - this is a custom link for your final submission form.
- Review the SVIC competition dates, guidelines, rules, judges’ criteria, scoring rubric and utilize the resources found on this page to plan a strong entry.
- Produce a 2-page summary and a 3-minute video which identify a pressing social, environmental or economic issue at the state, national or global level and explain your innovative, sustainable, business-oriented idea to solve it.
- Submit your FINAL entry materials through the Submission Application Form.
Remember to save the custom link to your unique Submission Application Form that is emailed to you after you fill out the SVIC Connect form in step 1.
Judging will take place in two rounds, the Preliminary Round (which is judged online by a large panel of judges from around the world and will determine the finalists) and the Final Round.
- The Preliminary Round of judging takes place virtually by an impressive panel of judges from around the world.
- The Final Round is where nine (9) finalists will present their entries to an illustrious judging panel of social venture experts.
- Finalists will be offered optional Presentation Coaching the week prior to the Final Round to help prepare for their Final Round presentation.
Submissions will be evaluated by all judges using the Judges' Scoring Rubric, which includes the following equally weighted criteria:
- Identification of Social or Environmental Problem
- Originality and Uniqueness of the Proposed Social Venture
- Social/Environmental Impact Potential
- Business Model/Financial Sustainability
- Presentation Quality
In this section, there are many wonderful resources available for contestants which will help strengthen your entry and hone your pitch. In addition to library research guidance and video production support, we recommend Idea Coaching through the UNH ECenter (see next section).
1. Defining the problem & your solution
As you begin, ask yourself some of these questions as they pertain to your idea:
Defining the Problem:
- What specific social (or environmental) problem does your innovation address?
- Why is this social problem important and who benefits from addressing it?
- What is the scale of the problem?
- Is the problem localized or is it of national and/or global importance?
- What is/are the root cause(s) of the problem?
- Are there additional contributing factors to the problem?
- Are current solutions to the problem offered?
- Are they effective?
- Why or why not?
- Are any of them market-based?
Describing the Solution(your social venture idea):
- As briefly as possible, what is your vision?
- What change do you ultimately want to create in the world?
- Why do you believe a market-driven solution will be most effective at addressing the problem?
- How will you achieve your vision through your social venture? (In non-technical terms, briefly describe the strategic approach of your social venture innovation.)
- How will you bring your social innovation to the intended market?
- How will your social venture be financially self-sustaining within a reasonable time period?
- What is the geographic area and size in terms of number of people served by your social innovation?
- What is your social venture "value" proposition, that is, what are the recognized benefits the social innovation brings to the market?
- Why is your solution innovative?
- Why is your solution more effective than existing solutions aimed at addressing your identified problem?
- How do you know that your social innovation is actually addressing the root cause(s) of the problem, and not just a symptom?
- How will your solution create the intended impact?
- How long will it take for your social innovation to have a lasting and meaningful impact on addressing the problem and at what cost? (Note: Social innovations that are closer to being implemented and at a lower cost in addressing the problem will be judged more highly than those that require significantly more time to bring to market and at a higher cost.)
2. Library Resources
The Dimond Library is great resource for background data gathering and to define and document the nature, scope, causes, and consequences of the environmental/social problem you are aiming to help solve and for researching other existing solutions to these problems. Check out UNH's Library SVIC guide.
3. Video Production Support
For UNH students:
For registered UNH students, the Parker Media Lab (PML) supports students and faculty in production of rich media. Staff of the PML have the expertise to guide you through the project and the PML also provides you with all the guides and equipment to help you plan, shoot and edit your media assignment.
For all contestants:
Although the services of the Parker Media Lab at UNH (PML) are available only to UNH students, they have a number of web-based resources to help any competitor with your video submission. In particular, we recommend the “Forms & Guides” section of the Media & Collaboration Services website:
Find out more online or stop in to the UNH Parker Media Lab.
- Video Making Process Tips
- Click HERE to view the archived Video Production Workshop (offered to SVIC contestants by UNH’s Parker Media Lab on 11/04/14).
- Please note: Since the date of this recording, responsibility for circulating Parker Media Lab equipment has changed. You must have an active UNH account (ITID) in order to check out equipment.
- Click HERE to view the archived Video Production Workshop (offered to SVIC contestants by UNH’s Parker Media Lab on 11/04/14).
- Free Resources
- Survival Guide
- What are Intellectual Assets?
The ECenter provides one-on-one idea coaching and consultation for business ideas, no matter where you are in the process. Whether you're looking for coaching for competitions or the next steps to take with your idea or start-up, the ECenter will provide one-on-one advising to get you started.
The ECenter offers 1:1 coaching and mentoring from entrepreneurs who have built successful ventures. Everything from a quick question to on-going weekly sessions are available at no cost to you!
The NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge was founded by the University of New Hampshire in 2013 in partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner, and father of the microfinance movement, Professor Muhammad Yunus, who was also the inaugural keynote speaker, attracting over 700 people. It has become an annual signature event which powerfully demonstrates the keen interest of students and community entrepreneurs and activists in helping address some of society’s most pressing social and environmental challenges, and their creativity in designing novel, sustainable, business-orientated solutions.
Past events have showcased the idealism and ingenuity of students and community change agents, with over 90 entries from across the state of New Hampshire. In the student track, team members represented more than 30 different majors, suggesting that students from a variety of disciplines are interested in how entrepreneurial tools can be a force for good.
The SVIC was designed to be different from other traditional business plan competitions. Rather than full business plans, the Challenge is interested in unlocking and jumpstarting innovative thinking among students and community members who want to “make a difference.” The SVIC is designed to complement the annual Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market Competition which takes place at UNH each spring. Students are eligible and are encouraged to enter both competitions, with the Holloway prize providing an excellent follow-up to the SVIC, helping students develop their social venture ideas further.
“To me, social entrepreneurship is a continuous improvement process that starts with thinking differently. I am a big fan of the NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge because it effectively encourages young entrepreneurs to be more opportunistic and expansive in thinking about the potential impacts of their enterprises. Regardless of whether or not the participants win the competition, all benefit from the encouragement to think bigger and more optimistically. This process is positive and hopeful and can only catalyze more and better social enterprises.”
- Gary Hirshberg, President and Founder, Stonyfield Farm | 2015 SVIC Keynote Speaker
- Past student competitor
I find students are more motivated and willing to challenge themselves because they are able to choose their own passions and get quick and meaningful feedback on their ideas. Some of the students have even continued working on ideas after class ended, participating in other UNH programs and beyond.
- Kyle P. Kwiatkowski, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering