Want to be the next Elon Musk? Join these Entrepreneurship competitions!

Posted November 22, 2020 by Aisha Abdullah, PhD


If you’ve ever dreamt of running your own startup or creating innovative products to make the world a better place, you’re in great company. From ed-tech innovators and sustainable developers to small business owners and industry influencers, entrepreneurs are helping to shape the future. But entrepreneurs aren’t made overnight. Entrepreneurial skills need to be fostered and academic competitions are a great place to start. So what does it take to be an entrepreneur? 

Be resilient
“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” Angela Lee Duckworth, founder of CharacterLab

All of the good ideas in the world won’t amount to anything without hard work and the ability to recover when you fail. Competitions like FCCLA Knowledge Matters Virtual Business Challenge and InvenTeams High School Invention Grants offer the opportunity to dive in headfirst and prove that you’re willing to put in the work.

Think creatively
“Creativity and innovation are about finding unexpected solutions to obvious problems, or finding obvious solutions to unexpected problems.” Rei Inamoto, Chief Creative Officer of AKQA

Entrepreneurs need to be able to see the world and its problems in an entirely new way. Competitions like the Technovation Challenge and the Conrad Challenge foster creative thinking and encourage students to push their inventive limits.

Take risks
“Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.” Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks

Entrepreneurs are nothing if not risk-takers. Believing in your ability to create valuable and new to put out in the world takes guts. Join competitions like the Modeling the Future Challenge and Diamond Challenge to build your risk-taking fortitude.

Build relationships
“Focus on the importance of forging a long-term relationship, whether with colleagues, partners, or customers.” Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder of Care.com

An often forgotten aspect of entrepreneurship is the necessity of building strong relationships. No one, not even the most successful and iconic titans of business got to where they are alone. The teams you form, the colleagues you support, the friends who you reach out to for help. Those are the people who will help you on the way to your dream. Team competitions like Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and DECA Competitive Events are a great way to start making connections that will last a lifetime.

Entrepreneurship Competitions for High School students
Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition – virtual high school entrepreneurship competition
Conrad Challenge –  innovation/entrepreneurship competition for teams of students aged 13-18
Diamond Challenge – high school team business innovation competition
FCCLA Knowledge Matters Virtual Business Challenge – high school virtual business simulation
Future Business Leaders of America – skills and career development events for individuals and teams
Genius Olympiad: Business – international high school project competition
InvenTeams High School Invention Grants – high schoolers can receive up to $10,000 for invention
Junior Academy – innovative solution challenges for students aged 13-17
Modeling the Future Challenge – math modeling, data science, and risk analysis challenge
Paradigm Challenge – competition real-world problem-solving competition for students aged 4 to 18 
Technovation Challenge – tech-based team competition for girls ages 10 – 18
World Series of Innovation – global, online innovation competition for ages 13-24
Youth Service America: Everyday Young Heroes – challenges based on Sustainable Development Goals 

There are also many ways to learn more about entrepreneurship and meet like-minded peers. Be sure to check out some of these youth entrepreneurship programs:
Acton Children’s Business Fair 
Beta-Bowl | Youth Entrepreneurship
Junior Achievement Be Entrepreneurial
LaunchX – Young Entrepreneurs Program 
Venture Lab
Young Entrepreneurs Academy 
Youth Entrepreneurs 

Find more entrepreneur-focused competitions in the Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS) database. Don’t forget if you upgrade to a premium account you’ll get additional tools to help track your progress in competitions and get special discounts on ICS-managed programs!