The pitch competition will be held as part of Utica College Business Program’s event, “Pioneering The Future,” which focuses on the future of work in the region and serve as the regional qualifier for the 2019 New York Business Plan Competition.

The competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students who attended any of the region’s institutions of higher learning during the 2018-19 academic year (December graduates are eligible). This competition is open to students from the following: Utica College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Hamilton College, Hartwick College, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Delhi, SUNY Morrisville, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College, and Herkimer Community College.

Students who grew up in the Mohawk Valley but attend college outside the region are also eligible, but you must be enrolled and have an advisor. Please also note that all team members — not advisory board members — must be students.

If you have any eligibility questions, which track to register for, or general inquiries, please contact Prof. Brett Orzechowski at bjorzech@utica.edu. Company registration for the event is now closed.


Participants will have 10 minutes to pitch their company, product, or service to a panel of sitting judges. The concept is modeled very much after a traditional investor/start-up pitch, so advisement is suggested. A clock will count down your time. Once the time expires, judges will have five minutes for questions.


In order to register and qualify, you must fill out the form below electronically by the March 29 deadline with your final pitch deck. Submissions will not be accepted after this date. (Also, the registration will not be accepted without the pitch deck link.) To level the field, all pitch decks received on or before March 29 will be uploaded to a computer for the April 5 presentation.


To plan accordingly, all participants will be notified of their pitch time by Monday, April 1. A schedule will also be posted online. There will be two waves — morning and early afternoon — so please plan accordingly. Once times are locked in, we cannot change to accommodate your schedule.


Absolutely! If you and your team register below, your pass will get you in the entire day. If you are bringing advisors, family, friends, significant others or a built-in cheering section, they will need to register through the main event portal here by Monday, April 1 so we can get an accurate head count. Space is limited. Thank you in advance for your professionalism. (Registration is now closed.)


At 4 p.m. on April 5 to conclude the “Pioneering The Future” event.


Members of Upstate Venture Connect, the leading entrepreneur-led nonprofit across New York, have generously offered to help refine pitches and prepare contestants weeks before the event. You must register by March 20 (pitch deck can be refined up until March 29) in order to take advantage of this advanced mentoring. If you are interested, please contact Brett Orzechowski at bjorzech@utica.edu.


Utica College’s Brvenik Center for Business, Clark City Center, 177 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501. Parking is available on the street or in the garage located on the corner of Bleecker and Burnet Streets. Students can also take the shuttle from Utica College’s Burrstone campus.


Since this pitch event is the qualifier for the state competition, the top two teams in each of the following tracks will advance to the state final:

  • AgTech & Food: Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service that relates to agriculture, food production or distribution or food waste.
  • Energy & Environment: Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to energy, clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental, and/or sustainability applications.
  • Military & First Responder: Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to the needs of utility workers, military, first responders, government applications or transportation industry.
  • MedTech & Well-Being: Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to biotech, sports, medical care or well-being, including mental health.
  • Technology & Entertainment: Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, that relates to consumer software/online platforms, cryptocurrency, entertainment, fintech, or music.
  • Consumer Products & Services: Any idea, technology, process, product, and/or service, not included in any previous category, generally intended for use by individuals or households.

Please note that this structure may change for the qualifier depending on number of registered participants. All registered participants will be notified after the March 29 deadline whether categories will remain or the competition will shift to a “best-in-show” format with multiple prizes.


All companies, regardless of category, will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Market Opportunity: Clear market need and a plan to take advantage of the need.
  • Competitive Advantage: The product or service is something unique that has a competitive advantage in the proposed market.
  • Management Capability: The team has the skills and experience to develop this company and address the risks associated with the venture.
  • Financial Understanding: The team has a solid understanding of the financial requirements of the business.
  • Venture Maturity: This team has incorporated as a business and is in contact with potential customers.
  • Presentation: The pitch presented the venture in a clear, compelling manner, and answered questions well.
  • Investment Potential: The business is a real investment opportunity in which you would consider investing.