The Diamond Challenge is run out of Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware to empower the next generation to adapt in the ever-changing world we live in. Learn more about why over 4,000 students have engaged with us!
Ways to Engage
Click on the title below for more information
The individuals and organizations who showcase opportunities for high school students at our annual summit
The young industry professionals who guide Diamond Challenge semifinalist teams prior to pitching at the University and/or assist attendees by hosting one-on-one sessions during our annual summit
The high school students who fuel the Diamond Challenge, learn about entrepreneurship, and meet students from around the globe
The organizations that financially support student success and allow the Diamond Challenge to grow through the years
Rounds of the Diamond Challenge
Live and Virtual Pitch Preliminary Round
Eligibility & Cost
If you want to participate, you must be a high school student typically between the ages of 14-18.
Free to Compete
The Diamond Challenge is a completely free competition to students all around the world.
If the primary purpose is to solve a customer problem that by doing so will generate revenue and profit, then the business concept competition is right for you.The business concept competition focuses on the development and validation of new business models.
If the primary purpose is to solve a social problem and make a positive impact on people or the environment, then the social innovation competition is right for you.The social innovation competition focuses on the development of new, social innovation models that may include revenue-generating nonprofit organizations and mission-driven, for-profit ventures.
Based on your competition track selection, if there is a pitch site near you, you will pitch live in front of judges.
Based on your competition track selection, if there is not a pitch site near you, you will pitch virtually by recording a video of your team and submitting it using our online portal.
Student teams are required to submit a pitch deck.
Student teams are required to submit no longer than a 5-page written concept.
Virtual participants will submit a video pitch. Live participants will present an in person pitch.
January 12 – 29
February 8 – March 18
April 11 – 13
Diamond Challenge Submissions Open
Register your team and find an advisor!
Diamond Challenge Submissions Close
Submit your written concept & slide deck!
Diamond Challenge Judging Window
Online Diamond Challenge judges will review participant submissions and determine who moves on to virtual and live pitching.
Live and Virtual Pitching
Students pitch live at pitch sites around the world or record their video pitches and submit them online for review.
Diamond Challenge Youth Entrepreneurship Summit
Semifinalist and finalist teams pitch live at the University of Delaware, while students and educators from all around the world come together to engage in entrepreneurship through mentoring sessions, workshops, speakers, panels, and more.
Over 35 countries and 25 states have participated. Click on a location to learn more about our pitch site partners.
All semifinalist teams will receive cash prize awards and an invitation to travel to the University of Delaware to compete in the semifinal round. Top prizes include additional funding that may be used to support the team’s venture or serve as a scholarship for higher education.
Top Prize Awards
A package worth over $11,000 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
A package worth over $7,000 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
A package worth over $3,500 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
Rules and Judging Criteria
- Teams must be comprised of 2-4 high school students ages 14-18 (9th – 12th grade/form) and one teacher or other adult advisor who is in a position to provide the opportunity to participate and is broadly available. All members of a team must be actively enrolled for the duration of the Diamond Challenge and in good academic standing at their school.
- Only concepts that have been conceived by the members of the team may be submitted to the Diamond Challenge. If a submitted concept has been conceived also by members not participating in the Diamond Challenge, their names must be disclosed upon registration so as to avoid conflicts of interest among early-stage concepts. Businesses and social enterprises must not have generated more than $100,000 in total revenue prior to the submission deadline for the written concept and slide deck.
- Business concept and social innovation written submissions are strictly limited to 5 pages, not including a cover page. If a submission exceeds this limit, only its first 5 pages will be evaluated. Submission must maintain 1-inch (2.54 cm) margins and use 12-point font.
- Live presentations will be strictly limited to 5 minutes. Teams are free to use presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint and Keynote) as well as display boards, prototypes, and anything else they believe will enhance the impact of their presentations. All members must participate in the presentation. Responses to the question will be strictly limited to 3 minutes.
- To eliminate the potential for judging bias, teams will be assigned a submission number, which should be listed on the cover page for the written submission and the first slide of the presentation. Participants must avoid listing or disclosing the names of the schools they represent on their written submissions and during their presentations unless the school constitutes it as a critical element of their concept. Questions about whether the school constitutes disclosing the school name as a critical element of the concept should be directed to [email protected] prior to submission. Failure to abide by this non-disclosure rule will result in a deduction from the team’s score.
Virtual Track Video Rules
The Virtual Track is an option for high school students from all around the world who wish to participate in the competition but don’t have a business concept and/or social innovation preliminary round in their country or region. The submission is required to follow the same rules mentioned above, in addition to the following:
- Recorded video pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes of recorded video. Teams are free to use their creativity as they see fit to best portray their concept, which includes presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote), as well as display boards, prototypes, images, sounds, motion graphics, etc. Final slide decks must be in either PowerPoint or PDF format to ensure compatibility with all laptops.
- All team members are required to speak when delivering the recorded pitch.
- All team members must be visible from at least the waist up in the recorded video.
- Slides must be visible to the viewer for the duration of the presentation.
Judging Criteria: Business Concept
All written business concepts and presentations (including responses to a question) will be judged based on an equal weighting of perceived feasibility and growth potential as well as taking “wow factor” into consideration.
Semi-finalists will be determined by averaging judges’ scores and equally weighting these criteria. Selection of the three finalist teams will involve a third factor – audience vote. Scores for the audience vote factor will be a function of the total number of votes/likes received for each semi-finalist video pitch while it is posted on the Diamond Challenge website for public viewing. Finalists will be determined by adding the feasibility, growth potential, “wow factor”, and audience vote scores, thereby giving equal weighting to each of these factors.
Feasibility refers to “the degree to which the concept can actually work as well as the team’s ability to execute the concept and establish a defensible position in the targeted market(s).” Several issues can be expected to influence feasibility ratings, including:
- To what extent are the customer segment(s) and their problem(s) identified and validated?
- To what extent does the team’s proposed solution appear to solve the problem and deliver superior value in comparison to existing alternatives?
- To what extent are the sales process and other business model components specified, validated and financially viable?
- To what extent does the team possess the skills and resources needed to execute the model or appear likely to succeed in securing necessary talent and resources?
Growth potential refers to “the likely ease with which the business can be scaled and the ultimate size (in terms of revenue and profitability) that the business may attain.” Several issues can be expected to influence growth potential ratings, including:
- How large is the served available market?
- What share of the available market may ultimately be served by the business?
- To what extent does the business possess an unfair advantage that will enable it to defend its position against emerging competition?
- To what extent can the business model be quickly and efficiently scaled?
- Awarded for creativity, ingenuity, persistence, passion, storytelling and any other intangibles that are deemed likely to influence the feasibility and growth potential of the business.
Judging Criteria: Social Innovation
All written social innovation concepts and presentations (including responses to a question) will be judged based on an equal weighting of perceived social impact, feasibility, sustainability, and taking “wow factor” into consideration.
Semi-finalists will be determined by averaging judges’ scores and equally weighting these criteria. Selection of the three finalist teams will involve a third factor – audience vote. Scores for the audience vote factor will be a function of the total number of votes/likes received for each semi-finalist video pitch while it is posted on the Diamond Challenge website for public viewing. Finalists will be determined by adding the social impact, feasibility, sustainability, and audience vote scores, thereby giving equal weighting to each of these factors.
Social impact refers to “the extent to which an organization’s actions have a positive effect on beneficiaries and the surrounding community or environment.” Several issues can be expected to influence social impact scores, including:
- To what extent does the team demonstrate a rich understanding of the problem(s), and that it is informed by direct engagement with beneficiaries, payers/customers and others?
- To what extent does the team’s proposed solution appear to solve the problem and deliver superior value (to beneficiaries and payers/customers) in comparison to existing alternatives?
- To what extent are other business/social impact model components, especially the beneficiary engagement and selling process, specified, validated and financially viable?
- To what extent does the team possess the skills and resources needed to execute their business/social impact model or appear likely to succeed in securing necessary talent and resources?
Feasibility & Sustainability
Feasibility refers to “the degree to which the concept can actually work as well as the team’s ability to execute the concept and establish a defensible position in the targeted market(s).”
Sustainability refers to “the extent to which the venture’s revenues can be expected to be sufficient to maintain or expand operations and continue to deliver positive social impact for the foreseeable future.” Several issues can be expected to influence feasibility & sustainability ratings, including:
- How many people and communities are affected by the problem(s) and how severe are the adverse impacts? (i.e. How big is the “market” of beneficiaries, payers/customers and how bad is the problem if not solved?)
- How many people and communities may ultimately be served by the social venture and how much will they benefit?
- Does the venture deliver unique, meaningful benefits – both immediate and longer-term – to people and communities in a way that cannot be easily copied?
- To what extent is the solution scalable and cost effective?
- Awarded for creativity, ingenuity, persistence, passion, storytelling and any other intangibles that are deemed likely to influence the feasibility and potential of the venture.
- The Diamond Challenge includes open session presentations and external review of business concept and social innovation submissions. Participation is voluntary, and as such, participants are responsible for determining whether to disclose proprietary or sensitive information in their submissions and presentations. The University of Delaware and all other partnering organizations assume no liability for accidental or voluntary disclosures of proprietary information or intellectual property.
- The Leadership Team for the Diamond Challenge shall be the arbiter of all rules and rule clarifications. The team reserves the right to disqualify any participants who violate these rules or the spirit of the competition. Rule questions and inquiries should be submitted to [email protected]