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Bring your venture ideas for sustainable business to life through the Abrams Sustainable Business Challenge.

The Abrams Challenge is an annual pitch competition for Loyola University Chicago students who want to envision, plan, launch, and scale eco-friendly ventures or products. Simulating a real-life entrepreneurial process, students will pitch their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges for the chance to win up to $20,000 in prize money.

Register now to participate

Meet the 2022 winners

ABRAMS CHALLENGE EXPERIENCE

The Abrams Challenge is an immersive learning experience that includes two rounds of competition.

Participant Requirements

Any full-time enrolled student at Loyola University Chicago is invited to participate in the Abrams Challenge. Students must be full time for at least one semester or quarter during the course of the competition (fall or spring). Loyola students who are enrolled full-time in the fall semester and graduating in December are eligible to participate.

Students will form teams of 2 - 4 members and develop their pitches through a series of extracurricular workshops and classes led by faculty members from the Quinlan School of Business and the School for Environmental Sustainability. Note: The competition is intended for teams because collaboration is a critical component to successful entrepreneurship. There may be special circumstances that would allow individuals to compete – for example, if your business is already in the early stage of development. Please contact us at abramschallenge@luc.edu to discuss your specific request.

Students may only be part of one team.

Challenge Requirements

Students must register to participate. The pitch competition takes place over two rounds. Finalist teams from Round 1 will be selected to participate in Round 2 of the Abrams Challenge.

Registration

Deadline February 6, 2023

Teams must complete the form below to register to participate in the Challenge. Teams are encouraged to register as soon as possible to gain access to resources, mentors, and reminders. Registration is required no later than February 6, 2023.

Register Now To Participate

Round 1: Submission Requirements

Deadline February 27, 2023

Registered teams will receive a link to upload their Round 1 submission. The business concept submitted must be the original work of the team. Each team submits:

  • A written executive summary (no more than two pages, single-spaced) with a clear explanation of the business concept and value proposition. Download Executive Summary Template.
  • A 3-minute video pitch of the business concept and value proposition.  Submission Deadline: February 27, 2023, at midnight.

Round 2: Pitch Competition Requirements

Finalists are invited to:

  • Present a 10-minute pitch in front of an esteemed panel of judges on April 21, 2023.
  • Participate in a 10-minute Q&A session with the judging panel.

The pitch competition will take place on April 21, 2023. The competition will be held from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m., with a reception to follow. Three winning teams will be awarded prize money to develop and launch their ventures.

Judging Criteria

A panel of judges will review Round 1 submissions and select finalists to participate in Round 2 of the Abrams Challenge. A separate panel of judges will judge the final pitch competition and determine the three winning teams.

Pitches are judged on the following criteria.

Challenge Prizes

Three winning teams from the pitch competition on April 21, 2023, will receive prize money to develop, scale, and launch their sustainable business ventures or products. Teams may opt to develop an LLC or other business entity to receive the funds or have prize money split evenly amongst individual team members. The team will be considered final upon submission of the video pitch and executive summary. Prize money is subject to taxes as required by the IRS.

1st Place: $20,000

2nd Place: $15,000

3rd Place: $10,000

ABRAMS CHALLENGE SUPPORT

Participating teams will have access to curricular support, extra-curricular workshops, and mentorship.

The three winning teams of the Abrams Challenge will receive ongoing support and counsel from Ignite Lab, Loyola’s flagship incubator. Winning teams will also receive a summer membership to a Chicago entrepreneurship center applicable to their business venture such as 1871 or mHUB where they can network, access resources, and receive support.

Curricular Support

While not required, students who are planning to participate in the Abrams Challenge are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor about enrolling in any of the following classes in the 2022-2023 academic year that will be taught by Abrams Challenge faculty:

  • ENTR 201 Introduction to Entrepreneurship with April Lane Schuster
  • ENTR 201 Introduction to Entrepreneurship with Ugur Uygur
  • ENVS 333/433 Introduction to the Circular Economy with Sarah Ku
  • ENVS 363 Sustainable Business Management with Sarah Ku
  • MGMT 480 Recognizing Entrepreneurial Opportunities with Ugur Uygur

Students who wish to expand their skills in entrepreneurship may pursue a minor in this field. The Entrepreneurship Minor provides excellent foundational knowledge of strategic aspects of the entrepreneurial process.

Additionally, students interested in learning more about sustainability in business and industry can pursue the Sustainability Management Minor, which provides foundational knowledge of the applications of sustainability in management, marketing, and economics.

 

Extra-Curricular Workshops

Participating students will be encouraged to attend online, asynchronous extracurricular workshops designed by Loyola faculty to help prepare teams for each stage of the Abrams Challenge.

Mentorship

Teams who register by the deadline will be paired with mentors who have deep experience in new venture creation and in developing and launching new environmentally sustainable products, concepts, or ideas. Teams are encouraged to register as early as they can to have the benefit of mentorship for as much of the Challenge as possible.

Ongoing Support

The three winning teams of the Abrams Challenge will receive ongoing support and counsel from Ignite Lab, Loyola’s flagship incubator. Winning teams will also receive a summer membership to a Chicago entrepreneurship center applicable to their business venture such as 1871 or mHUB where they can network, access resources, and receive support.

Abrams Challenge Judges

Students will pitch their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges.

ABRAMS CHALLENGE TIMELINE

September 28, 2022: Abrams Challenge Information Session. Register here.

October 14, 2022 (5:30-7:00 p.m.): Abrams Challenge Kickoff Gathering. RSVP here.

February 1, 2023: Abrams Challenge Information Session. Register here.

February 6, 2023: Registration Deadline. Register here. 

February 27, 2023: Round 1 Submission Deadline: Video Pitch and Executive Summary.

March 22, 2023: Finalists are notified of moving to Round 2.

April 21, 2023 (1:00 - 4:00 p.m., reception to follow): Final pitch competition. Three winning teams are awarded prize money to develop and launch their ventures.

Confidentiality & Video Recordings

Participants should be aware that final pitches will be presented in a public forum and will be recorded. Confidentiality is not guaranteed in any way. Please do not include sensitive or confidential material in your Round 1 submissions or your Round 2 final pitch. 

FAQs

When do teams need to register by?

Teams are strongly encouraged to register as soon as possible and are required to register by February 6, 2023. If there are any changes to the team after registration, please email AbramsChallenge@luc.edu. The team will be considered final upon submission of the video pitch and executive summary. 

How will teams be judged?

A panel of judges will review Round 1 submissions and select finalists to participate in Round 2 of the Abrams Challenge. A separate panel of judges will judge the final pitch competition and determine the three winning teams.

Pitches are judged on the following criteria.

What classes are part of the Abrams Challenge? Are they required?

While not required, students who are planning to participate in the Abrams Challenge are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor about enrolling in any of the following classes in the 2022-2023 academic year that will be taught by Abrams Challenge faculty:

  • ENTR 201 Introduction to Entrepreneurship with April Lane Schuster
  • ENTR 201 Introduction to Entrepreneurship with Ugur Uygur
  • ENVS 333/433 Introduction to the Circular Economy with Sarah Ku
  • ENVS 363 Sustainable Business Management with Sarah Ku
  • MGMT 480 Recognizing Entrepreneurial Opportunities with Ugur Uygur

Do I have to be an entrepreneurship major or environmental science major to participate?

No. Students from across all majors, programs, and levels of study who are enrolled full-time are encouraged to participate in the Abrams Challenge.

However, students who wish to learn more about entrepreneurship or sustainability may pursue a minor in either of these two fields.

If my team wins the Abrams Challenge, do we have to use the prize money toward developing our sustainable business venture?

Yes. Prize dollars must be used to further develop your sustainable business idea. We are hoping to grow the next generation of sustainable business entrepreneurs!

Will participating in the workshops be required?

Yes. At least one member of the team will have to participate in each one of the workshops provided.

Do teams need to be formed with students enrolled in the same classes? Can a team include both graduate and undergraduate students?

Teams can be formed across the university and can include both graduate and undergraduate students.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

For questions or more information, please email AbramsChallenge@luc.edu.