The Accelerator competition: develop a business idea

The Accelerator competition: develop a business idea

Do you have an idea to explore a market opportunity? Or an exciting new way to solve a problem? Bring your idea to The Accelerator and we’ll support you to develop it and test how it could work in the real world.

The Accelerator is more than just a competition – although you could win up to $10,000 of a total cash prize pool of $20,000! It’s an opportunity to take part in a programme that not only develops your business idea, but connects you to the support of other entrepreneurs and guest experts, programme sponsors and helpful resources, and of course the X Challenge team. You’ll get heaps out of entering The Accelerator even if you don’t win a cash prize.

The Accelerator finalists announced

2021 has seen the greatest number of entries to X Challenge The Accelerator since 2017. Out of 42 amazing entries, eight finalists have been selected by a panel of 16 expert judges and are now on their journey to the Final Pitch Night.

View finalists

Dates for The Accelerator 2021

  • Entries open: Monday 24 May
  • Entries close: Monday 16 August
  • Finalists announced: Monday 30 August
  • The Final Pitch: Thursday 18 November

Competition details

You can enter as many ideas (or be in as many entering teams) as you like – and win multiple prizes.

Both X Challenge competitions (The Idea and The Accelerator) are open to all current AUT students or recent alumni who were enrolled at AUT for a minimum of 1 semester during the competition year. A team can include non-students as long as the main contact is a currently enrolled AUT student or recent alumni as described.

You can enter as an individual, or part of a team. If you enter a team, the key member and main contact must be a currently enrolled AUT student or recent alumni who was enrolled at AUT for a minimum of 1 semester during the competition year.

The information you disclose in your entry and the inherent intellectual property (IP) should belong to you or your team and should be the product of your own work. Ensure you have the rights to disclose the IP or confidential information of another party before you disclose it.

The Final Pitch night is a gazetted event. Gazetting opens up a six month window of opportunity to file a New Zealand patent or design application after an idea has been displayed at a gazetted event.

AUT will not have a benefit share or shareholding in your idea or business.

There is a total cash prize pool of $20,000 as well as a selection of awesome prizes up for grabs. You must use your prize money to further your winning business idea – perhaps for marketing, prototyping, research or similar.

Cash prizes are as follows:

  • Overall winner: $10,000
  • Overall runner-up: $5,000
  • Third place: $2,500
  • Plus a $2,500 discretionary judges’ prize

If you didn’t enter The Idea at all – or if you did enter it, and weren’t a winner – it doesn’t matter. The Idea and The Accelerator are separate competitions. We can also support you to develop and pivot the idea you entered into The Idea competition.

If your pitch deck is selected by the judges as one of the 8 finalists, you’ll present your idea to the judging panel at a Dragons’ Den-style night – The Final Pitch. If you’re part of a team chosen for the finals, at least one member of your team needs to present your idea.

The X Challenge team will help you prepare for The Final Pitch by giving you professional pitch coaching and pairing you with a mentor.

The judging panel will include entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors. Judges for the pitch night will be announced ahead of the final.

Events, resources and support

Get expert advice, join weekly workshops and take advantage of 1:1 sessions and online resources – the X Challenge team is here to support you on your journey.

USD$10k AWS credit!

Get support from our sponsors, Amazon Web Services (AWS) just for entering The Accelerator! Eligible entries get great benefits like USD$10k AWS credit, access to support engineers and credit for labs.

Contact us

Shayna McWhirter

shayna.mcwhirter@aut.ac.nz

X Challenge

The Accelerator is part of the X Challenge competition. Find out more about what competitions are run by X Challenge annually.