The marquee entrepreneurship event at UC Berkeley (more)


Catalyzes ventures that create and measure both social and financial returns (more)

 Intel Global Challenge at UC Berkeley  

Showcases global business opportunities of new and innovative technologies (more)


Allows students to apply the art and science of venture investing (more)

Overview of Startup Competitions

The Lester Center supports four premier startup competitions at Berkeley-Haas:

LAUNCH: the UC Berkeley Startup Competition is one of the foremost events for University-affiliated early stage startups. Founded in 1999, the UC Berkeley Startup Competition has become a leading Bay Area event and one of the nation’s top startup competitions. LAUNCH brings together entrepreneurs, students and alumni from across the greater UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco communities. Each fall, entrants organize teams through sponsored networking events, classes, and on their own in order to submit brief executive summaries shortly after returning from the campus winter break in January. Accepted competitors then refine their venture ideas and presentations, which are later judged by Bay Area venture capitalists to determine the semi-finalists, finalists, and ultimately, the Competition winners. Throughout it all, teams are matched with entrepreneurial mentors  who provide guidance and help in iterating on their venture ideas.

The mission of the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) is to catalyze the creation of social ventures, educate future leaders and build awareness of social enterprises. GSVC supports the creation of businesses that bring about positive social change in a sustainable manner. Founded at Berkeley-Haas  in 1999 as the National Social Venture Competition,  GSVC is the largest and oldest student-led business plan competition providing mentoring, exposure, and prizes for social ventures from around the world. The Lester Center manages the Global Finals and  Symposium at  Berkeley-Haas with the support of a leadership team of Berkeley-Haas MBAs and in partnership with a number of national and international partners including Columbia Business School, London Business School, the Indian School of Business, and Thammasat University in Thailand. The Competition is also supported by several Outreach Partners in the US, Europe, and Asia, and continues to grow in its scope and reach across the globe. Since its inception, the GSVC has awarded more than a half a million dollars to emerging social ventures and has introduced early-stage social venture entrepreneurs to the investment community.

In collaboration with Intel, the Lester Center hosts The Intel Global Challenge at UC Berkeley. The Challenge brings together the best engineers and scientists from around the world to present their business  plans that aim to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.  The Challenge partners with the best research institutions from across the globe and has affiliations  with regional business plan competitions to find the technologies and teams that can have the greatest impact. Since its inaugural year in 2005, teams have come from countries including Brazil, China, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and the United States.

The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) is, in essence, a “reverse business plan competition.” Student teams assume the role of venture capitalists and evaluate and “fund” investment opportunities. Real entrepreneurs who are currently seeking funding present their startups to the VCIC teams, while the teams are judged by experienced venture capitalists. The Competition is open to all UC Berkeley graduate students interested in trying their hand at being a venture capitalist for a day. There is strong interest in the Competition each year, with an average of 30 teams applying  to compete for just six spots. . Winners of the UC Berkeley round go on to compete in the regional finals at Santa Clara University. Regional winners progress to the national  finals at the University of North Carolina, where a Haas team took the national title in 2005.

VCIC ® is a trademark of the University of North Carolina.

Year after year, these competitions have helped to identify and promote promising startup ideas through the education and exposure afforded by the Competitions’ events, mentors and judges.