Social Venture Innovation Challenge at UNH Open to All N.H. Entrepreneurs

Friday, September 14, 2018

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DURHAM, N.H.—Registration is now open for the 2018 New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge (SVIC) at the University of New Hampshire. Launched in 2011, the competition showcases the idealism and ingenuity of students and community entrepreneurs across New Hampshire and has engaged more than 200 contestants, representing over 90 teams, with ideas spanning a wide range of issue areas from poverty to climate change. Submissions are due Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, by 10 a.m.

The SVIC asks contestants to design innovative, sustainable, business-orientated solutions in response to some of society’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Designed to be an “innovation accelerator,” the SVIC is an idea competition where big ideas are rewarded. No detailed plans required, but rather proposals in the form of a three-minute video and two-page paper. Entries can be for a new (pre-launch stage) initiative, an existing social venture in the formative stages of development (i.e. less than one year old) or a major new social entrepreneurial initiative for an established venture.

There are two tracks – one for community members (New Hampshire residents and any UNH alumni) and another for students in any college or university in the state. Submissions can be by individuals or teams. Full details on registration, deadlines and eligibility can be found at  

Challenge winners receive awards that are intended to provide investment to a social venture to help fund its establishment and/or growth. These awards are made possible by the generous support of lead sponsors Impax Asset Management, Kennebunk Savings Bank, Pierce Atwood and Timberland, as well as CCA Global, Cole Hann, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility, Normandeau Associates and PixelMEDIA.

Cash prizes for the community track are: first prize, $10,000; second, $5,000; third, $2,500. Additional in-kind prizes will also be available to each of the three winners of the community track to help bring needed resources to advance these promising models. New for 2018, there will be several special invite-only events for the winners in early 2019, designed to help them connect with mentors, and helpful resources to propel their ideas forward. This will include a special dinner hosted by UNH alumnus Erik Dodier, founder of PixelMEDIA, at Portsmouth’s 100 Club with advice for how to support winning ideas with effective online marketing.

Cash prizes for the student track are: first prize, $5,000; second, $3,000; third, $2,000.

The preliminary round will be judged online by a panel of social venture leaders, funders and other experts. Eight teams in each track will be selected to advance to the final round, which will take place Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, in Durham. After the live final round presentations and judges’ deliberations, there will be a keynote address by a leading social innovator, and the awarding of prizes. Members of the community are encouraged to attend as audience members.

A social venture presents an innovative solution to a defined problem, such as poverty or climate change, facing the state of New Hampshire, region, nation, or world. It should aim to be market-based and aspire towards being financially self-sustaining through earned revenues and profits, decreasing after initial start-up the reliance on grants or donations. A social venture should harness the best of market-based approaches, but have a primarily social rather than financial objective.

The SVIC is organized by the Center for Social Innovation & Enterprise, and co-hosted by the Carsey School of Public Policy, Peter T. Paul College of Business & Economics, UNH’s Sustainability Institute, Net Impact UNH and Enactus UNH.

The Center for Social Innovation & Enterprise is a joint venture of Paul College and the Carsey School with the mission to support UNH’s innovative pedagogy, applied research, and meaningful engagement in social innovation, to contribute uniquely to the growing field of social innovation by working at the nexus of individual entrepreneurs and business models (traditionally the domain of business schools) with public policy and systemic change (traditionally the domain of policy schools), and inspire and equip UNH students from all colleges to be ‘changemakers’ through interdisciplinary, applied, hands-on career-relevant learning experiences at the intersection of business, policy, and social change.

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.