Deadline nears for Startup302, a contest with $300,000 in prizes


Early-stage technology-based companies are invited to compete in Startup302, a new contest that will award prizes valued at more than $300,000.

The contest is part of neoFest, a May event focusing on start-ups and technoloogy.

According to Ariel Gruswitz, director of innovation at Startup302 sponsor Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP), tech startups from industries focused on financial and business services, chemistry, bioscience, advanced materials and agriculture may apply. Entrants don’t have to be from Delaware, but the top three winners must pledge to establish a business presence in the state to claim their awards.

“Startup302 enhances the startup ecosystem in Delaware and the mid-Atlantic region by offering meaningful support for technology-based ventures, encouraging early-stage firm growth and attracting venture funding,” Gruswitz said. “We’re aiming to attract entrepreneurs from around the world to compete for prizes that will turn startup companies with high growth potential into funded enterprises connected to our region.”

Prizes for Startup302 winners include a mix of grant-based, investment and in-kind awards with a total value of more than $300,000. All startups who pitch as finalists are guaranteed to receive a $1,000 cash award, and they also will benefit from engagement with investors, industry and key influencers – no matter where they ultimately place in the competition.

“To get to the final round, entries will be carefully vetted by business leaders and members of the startup community,” Gruswitz said. “Some of Delaware’s best serial entrepreneurs will do the judging.”

There is no cost to enter, but the application deadline is March 2. Applicants will be notified of their status by April 1, and finalists will pitch their ventures on May 7.

Startup302 will take place at the Chase Center, located along the Wilmington Riverfront as part of Delaware’s inaugural NeoFest celebration. Spearheaded by the Horn Entrepreneurship program at the University of Delaware, neoFest also is being organized by Delaware Prosperity Partnership and other innovation-support organizations such as the Delaware Small Business Development Center, Delaware Innovation Space, Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, Emerging Enterprise Center, Millennial Summit and Tech Forum of Delaware. The State of Delaware is involved as well.

This full-day event will feature an entrepreneurial summit with workshops, networking and opportunities to link up with mentors and others who can help a business grow.

It also will include an innovation showcase that will place established and new businesses side by side throughout Governor’s Hall and breakout rooms where startup leaders and potential investors can meet to discuss funding opportunities.

Hen Hatch, the Horn program’s entrepreneurial program for UD students, alumni and staff, is bringing its final round to neoFest as well. The day will conclude with a reception and an awards ceremony.

“We’re envisioning neoFest as a community-led festival shining a spotlight on all things innovative – especially startups and disruptive technologies – and creating the conditions for a thriving culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Gruswitz said. “It truly will be a celebration of what’s innovative in Delaware.”

For further details and to apply, visit Questions may be addressed to Noah Olson, DPP innovation support manager, at or 302-576-6589.

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