Techstart and Creator Fund Challenge


Techstart and Creator Fund Challenge

Are you a student, academic or recent graduate at Ulster University or QUB?

Do you have an innovative business idea?​

Looking to kickstart your business idea and develop your MVP?

Find out more at our Competition Launch Event on 24th March at 5pm GMT​

Entries Close: Friday 30th April 2021

What Is The Techstart And Creator Fund Challenge?

We're on the hunt for Northern Ireland's most exciting university start-ups
  • Win up to £35k of grant funding
  • Receive mentorship and training sessions
  • Pitch in front of investors from across the UK

10 of Northern Ireland's best university entrepreneurs will deliver a virtual pitch on 9th June 2021 to the Creator Fund and TechStart investors, alongside guest judge Paul Taylor (Founder & CEO of Thought Machine).

3 Winners will be selected: 1 overall winner and 2 runners-up!

Up for the Challenge? Submit a 1 minute video pitch by midnight on Monday 26th April 2021 to enter.


We are proud to be partnering with Techstart to back the most exciting student start-ups in Northern Ireland.

About Creator Fund

Creator Fund are Europe's leading investors in university-based startups.  Based on the US Dorm Room Fund, CF has teams across 28 campuses and invests up to £150k in student and academic founders.  It has been backed by Schmidt Futures, Founders Factory, and 40+ investors and entrepreneurs.

Entering The Competition

Why Should I Enter?

The winning pitch is guaranteed a £35k grant from Techstart and hands-on support tailored to your business from The Creator Fund.  The 2 runners-up will receive £10k grants from Techstart.

Need funding to get your business underway?  Use the Techstart and Creator Fund Challenge to win the cash you need.

Who Can Enter?
  • We are looking for students - or those who have graduated in the past two years - and academics from either Ulster University or Queens University Belfast creating technology enabled, scalable businesses.  Technological innovation should be at the core of the startup.  We have a preference for entrepreneurs using expertise gained from their degrees to build their businesses.

  • We expect most startups to be pre-revenue.  Applicants could be pre-prototype stage with a well thought-through concept, could have developed a minimal viable product, a prototype, or at least advanced plans for a future product.

  • No applicants who have already received a Techstart Proof of Concept Grant

  • No applicants which have already received investment from Techstart or Creator Fund

  • No startup that has received more than £100,000 of private funding to date

  • Applicants/Founding Team must include at least one Academic, PhD, Masters or Undergraduate student at Ulster University or Queen's University Belfast.

  • Startup idea needs to be correlated with eligibility criteria of Techstart and Creator Fund to allow for possible future investment

    • Exploring viability and commercial potential of a novel and innovative concept​

    • Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company

    • Resident in Northern Ireland (if Company, must be registered in Northern Ireland)

    • SEIS-eligible

    • Please refer to for further eligibility criteria

How Do I Enter?

Applications to the competition will go live on the website on Thursday 25th March.  To enter, all you need to do is submit a 1 minute video pitch. From there, we will whittle the entrants down 10 finalists. The deadline for entries is midnight on Monday 26th April.

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About Techstart

Techstart Ventures is an early-stage technology Venture Capital Fund and is one of the most active seed stage investors in the UK, managing Funds throughout Northern Ireland and Scotland. Techstart is a trusted investment partner to ambitious founders on their journey to success. In Northern Ireland, Techstart also provide a £4.5m Proof of Concept Grant Fund. On a competitive basis, this grant fund supports entrepreneurs with grants to explore the viability and commercial potential of an innovative concept on the road to making the important decision to start a company.


NI Universities


Overall Winner


of funding available

Frequently asked questions

What Do I Need To Enter?

To enter you need just 2 things:
1. A technologically innovative and scalable startup concept or minimal viable product
2. A 1 minute video pitch

Click here to enter.

What Is The Judging Criteria?

The judging criteria will follow the eligibility criteria for the Creator Fund and Techstart, according to the usual metrics applied.

What Will Happen After I Enter?

After applications close on the 26th April, Creator Fund and Techstart will review the applications and 10 finalists will be announced on 12th May. At that point, you will be contacted to let you know if you have been successful. The 10 finalists will then have until the 26th May to submit their Proof of Concept grant applications to Techstart. The final pitch event will be held on the 9th June, where you will pitch to an audience of angels, founders, and the Creator Fund and Techstart Ventures investors. The overall winner and 2 runners-up will be announced at the event.

When Is The Deadline To Enter?

The deadline for applications is midnight on Monday 26th April

What is the prize?

The overall winner will be a recipient of a 35k Proof of Concept grant from Techstart, and hands-on support tailored to your business from the Creator Fund. The 2 runners-up will be recipients of a 10k Proof of Concept grant from Techstart.



Have any questions? Contact us and we'll help you out.


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