The University of Chicago Innovation Fund Associates  (IFA) are an interdisciplinary group of students and post-docs who aid the George Shultz Innovation Fund in its Spring investment cycle. Associates act as venture capital associates, performing due diligence on innovative ventures  coming out of the University of Chicago ecosystem.

The IFA program is structured as an apprenticeship, where associates learn-by-doing as part of an interdisciplinary team. Associates deep dive into one investment opportunity per cycle and get a close-up look at the  commercialization process and what it takes to move a technology from  the lab into the real world. IFAs commit to the winter and spring quarters, including at least 15 hours/week during the spring investment cycle.


The Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC) is the dedicated track of the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge program that supports Chicago Booth Executive MBA students worldwide. Second-year students in the Chicago Booth Executive MBA program are eligible to apply to the GNVC and participate as one of their capstone course requirements. A benefit of the GNVC is the participation of our alumni and members of the business community in the coaching and judging portions of the competition. More than 80 coaches, judges, panelists, and guest speakers participate in the GNVC each year.

The program is structured to meet the unique schedule needs of Chicago Booth executive MBA students. Since Chicago Booth has three global campuses—Chicago, London and Hong Kong—each campus hosts its own semi-finals event. The top teams across all campuses are invited to participate in the global finals, which are held in Chicago during the Executive MBA graduation week.

Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag: #ChicagoNVC.

To encourage the founding and growth of high-potential new ventures by second year Chicago Booth Executive MBA students.


  • Phase I: Current Chicago Booth Executive MBA students will apply to the GNVC with a feasibility summary. The feasibility summary is the application for the GNVC.
  • Phase II: Accepted companies will participate in local programming, mentorship, and feedback opportunities (resources will vary by region). Phase II will conclude with a regional semi-finals event, where top team(s) from each campus will be selected to advance as finalists to Phase III. Each region will send at least one finalist team, based on the number of applicants.
  • Phase III: The program will culminate in Chicago during graduation week where finalist teams from each region will pitch in front of a world-class panel of investors and established entrepreneurs. Last year’s prize money totaled $150,000.


  • Only second-year Executive MBA students are eligible to apply for the Global New Venture Challenge.
  • Entries must be the original work of the entrants and have commercial promise.
  • Each GNVC team must have a minimum of two second-year Executive MBA students per team and a maximum of six second-year Executive MBA students per team.
  • Applicants may not have raised more than $500k of outside investment (angel or VC) at the time of application (personal investments do not apply to this cap).
  • First-year Executive MBA students may participate in an advisory role and attend class, but will not receive credit for the course.
  • Teams whose founding members are unaffiliated with Chicago Booth are only eligible to apply to the GNVC if they have a current Chicago Booth second-year Executive MBA student as an integral part of their team, with a 10% equity stake in the venture.
  • Teams may have members who are not affiliated with the Chicago Booth participate on their teams. The Polsky Center encourages teams to identify these individuals, as they likely contribute additional expertise and experience to help the team succeed.
  • No late submissions will be accepted.

Teams interested in applying to the GNVC must submit a completed application by the deadline. The deadline for the 2024 GNVC is Friday, January 5, 2024 by midnight CST.

The link to the 2024 GNVC application is live. If you have questions, please reach out to Dr. Amber Bradley Williams for more information about how to apply to the GNVC.


Students must develop a 8-page feasibility summary outlining a business or idea.

  • 10-12 pt legible font
  • 1 inch margins
  • 8-page maximum (judges are not expected to read any appendices)

Common elements of a feasibility summary include:

  • What problem is it solving? – Value proposition
  • Who is the customer? – Initial target market (Hint – do a lot of prospective customer interviews)
  • How large is the market for this product? – Market size 
  • Who are the competitors or competing technologies?
  • How will you make money? – Economics and projections
  • What is your go to market strategy? – Customer acquisition 
  • Who is your team? – Specifically, why are you qualified and capable to start this business
  • What is the current status of the company, team and product/service?

APPLICATION QUESTIONS: Students must speak to the following topics about their business in short-answer responses. This section will serve as the Executive Summary to a team’s application:

  • Business description (50 words or less, please note that this info may be made available on marketing materials)
  • Problem this business is addressing (125 word limit)
  • Customer/beneficiary segment this business addresses (125 word limit)
  • Potential market size (125 word limit)
  • Competing or substitutable products (125 word limit)
  • Why is this the right team to launch this business? (125 word limit)
  • Key milestones/current status of business and/or estimated time to market (125 word limit)

TEAM RESUMES: Resumes of each team members should be included in the application.

As a condition to receive the prize money, each winning team must agree to provide the Polsky Center with equity in the company (that was the subject of its application). The Polsky Center offers a non-negotiable version of the Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) for companies that receive prize money.

SAFE is a standard convertible equity investment instrument first introduced and used by Y Combinator for seed funding. Fundamentally (and ideally), it is an investment that converts to preferred stock at the occurrence of the next round of funding and at the same terms as that round of funding. It is not traditional preferred stock or a convertible note. It is intended to replace convertible notes by keeping a similar conversion mechanism but removing many of the problems inherent in debt instruments (e.g., interest, maturity dates, risk of insolvency, and subordination). Importantly, SAFE is unlike preferred stock in that it does not require setting a valuation of the company — that determination is postponed until the later “occurrence of a particular event”.

The Judges Panel and/or the Polsky Center reserve the right to disqualify any entry that does not meet all the eligibility requirements or that violates any rules or regulations of the New Venture Challenge.

Judging will be based on the commercial potential of the business, innovative nature and technical feasibility of the idea, the credibility of the projections and assumptions, the ability of the team to make it happen, and the social impact of the business, if applicable. While the quality of management and advisors is important, it will be less of a factor in Phase I and more a factor as the team progresses to Phase III. All decisions of the judging panel will be final.

Cash prizes, along with any additional goods and services, will be divided among the top teams as deemed by the judging panel. The allocation of the prize money will be determined by the finals judges, based on relative merit and need. Each NVC finalist must review the terms of the SAFE agreement provided by the Polsky Center. As a condition to receive an award, each winning team must agree to provide the Polsky Center with equity in the company (that was the subject of its application) in an amount equal to its respective award if the company receives funding or otherwise enters into a business combination transaction wherein the surviving entity receives financing or equity in another entity.

The University of Chicago, the principal sponsor and organizer, the co-organizers and co-sponsors of the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge have taken all reasonable measures to assure that all contestants retain their rights to the Business Plan and Intellectual Property. The co-sponsors and judges of the program include non-University of Chicago organizations that are interested in fostering the entrepreneurial process. Some of these organizations are in the business of working with and investing in the ideas of entrepreneurs. However, co-sponsoring organizations will only have access to the Plans with a team’s prior approval and shall make no claim to any of the property or rights.

The protection of these rights is the ultimate responsibility of each contestant. Contestants are urged to mark as CONFIDENTIAL any portion of their entries, which they consider to be proprietary, or of a sensitive nature. Contestants should be careful about disclosing any “patentable” concepts in their entries because, although in the United States a patent application can be filed up to one year after the first public disclosure of an invention, in many foreign countries a patent application must be filed before any public disclosure is made.

The University of Chicago, each of the co-sponsors, judges, mentors, co-organizers (the “Competition Officials”) and its directors, officers, partners, employees, consultants and agents (collectively “Organizer Representatives”) are volunteers and are under no obligation to render any advice or service to any Contestant.  The views expressed by the judges, co-sponsors, co-organizers, and the Organizer Representatives are their own and not those of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business or any person or entity. Entrepreneurs will be asked to acknowledge and agree to this in the application process.

Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation