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Jumpstart Your Fundraising: Startup Competitions to Watch in 2023


Startup Pitch Competitions can be compared to skydiving in terms of being an exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience for entrepreneurs. Participating in such competitions provides an opportunity to pitch to multiple investors, gain valuable exposure, receive feedback, and network. The ultimate goal is to secure funding and accelerate the business. To make the process less daunting, a list of the best competitions to attend is provided, along with the advice to research each one, check the qualifications for entry, and prepare a clear and captivating pitch deck. Unlike skydiving, the entrepreneurs should metaphorically open their “parachute” right away by delivering a concise and engaging presentation that showcases their passion for their brand.

Inventures Startup Pitch Event

The Inventures Startup Pitch competition offers finalists the chance to present their product or service to a diverse audience consisting of venture capitalists, angel investors, entrepreneurs, early adopters, business educators, and service providers. Attendees can also take advantage of one-on-one networking opportunities with the audience members. Registration for all Inventures programming is free, and attendees have access to professional coaching and on-site mentoring. Additionally, there is a chance to win $10,000 in funding.

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Date: May 31 – June 2, 2023
Cost: There is no fee to apply when attending the program. Tickets for visitors are $899
Industry focus: They have to include one of those categories: the metaverse, Future of Work, AG/Food Tech, Health Innovation, Clean Tech, Computing Infinity
Amount you can win: $10,000 in funding

Calgary skyline, featuring the Calgary Tower and Saddledome in the wintertime.
Photo by Daven Froberg / Unsplash

AWE USA Startup Competition 2023

The AWE USA Startup Pitch Competition is a component of the AWE USA Event, which features over 5,000 attendees and 400 speakers. Since 2010, more than 5,000 companies and 60,000 professionals have relied on AWE to foster growth in the XR ecosystem through networking, learning, and collaboration. Participation in the competition or attendance at the event provides an opportunity to showcase your company to a vast audience and join a community that includes end-users and solution providers, investors and startups, brands and creators, developers, job seekers, and recruiters.

Location: Santa Clara, California
Date: June 1, 2023
Cost: Prices range from $695-$2499, depending on types of ticket and areas of access. For finalists attending the final event is free
Industry focus: Broad
Amount you can win: No cash prize is awarded for winning the competition. The winning startup takes home a grand prize and is honored on the main stage at AWE USA 2023 with the winning title of “Start-up to Watch”

This is a vantage point seen often on social media, and I wanted to find it, but no one was forthcoming with the info. I started to use Google Maps 3D to try and locate where this was. I knew the ballpark—it had to be northeast of downtown. So after many attempts trying to find this cluster of palm trees, I eventually came across what had to be the location. This area, within Lincoln Heights, has lovely views but is off the beaten path. It was time for me to go make my photograph. That will never get old. I’ve loved that process ever since I was a kid. Here’s to many more in 2018!
Photo by Sterling Davis / Unsplash

SpaceTech @ South Summit 2023

SpaceTech Startup Competition seeks the latest advancements in the aerospace industry, including cutting-edge technologies, business models, and innovations that are transforming the way humanity relates to the sky and space: Aircraft design, propulsion systems, space exploration, commercial space, electric aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, aviation safety, air traffic management, satellites, etc…


Application Deadline: May 7th
Main Event Dates: June 7-9
Location: Madrid, Spain

Photo by David Monje / Unsplash

WMF Startup Competition 2023

The WMF Startup Competition is a major international competition for innovative projects in Southern Europe, with over 4,300 startup applications and attendees and international delegations from 49 countries. Participating companies have the opportunity to showcase their projects to a distinguished audience of key players in the digital sector, investors, entrepreneurs, and innovation experts, who could potentially support the growth of promising business ideas.


Location: Rimini EXPO Centre, Italy
Date: June 15-17, 2023
Cost: TBD
Industry focus: Broad, but requires innovative projects or ideas regarding the digital/technological sector
Amount you can win: There isn’t a specific cash prize but the total value of prizes to date has been more than 3,300,000€

Sunrise in a city with old structures and birds
Photo by Mattia Golinucci / Unsplash

PITCH @ Collision 2023

Although the location has changed this year, with 25,000 attendees moving from New Orleans to Toronto, Collision continues to maintain its status as the fastest-growing tech conference in the US. Participate in various startup workshops, receive firsthand guidance from investors, and take part in the ultimate startup battle at PITCH, where you can compete against the top 70 startups over three days to become the champion.


Location: Toronto, Canada
Date: June 26-29, 2023
Cost: They are releasing a limited number of discounted tickets for Collision 2023 in Toronto, you can save 50% by registering for their flash sale
Industry focus: Broad
Amount you can win: There is no money — but there is a ton of exposure, and a PITCH trophy

The Toronto Lights
Photo by Conor Samuel / Unsplash

Next Founders 2023

Next Founders is a Canadian startup ecosystem that provides a more immersive and slower option for startups. The program focuses on accelerating the growth of both the startup and the founder through mentoring and access to capital. Successful applicants can receive up to $30K in non-dilutive grant funding and will have opportunities to present their startup at various events and attend workshops prior to the final Venture Day presentation.


Location: Toronto, Ontario
Date: The upcoming cohort will run from March – September 2023
Cost: There is no cost to participate in the program
Industry focus: Broad, but your business has to be located in Southern Ontario
Amount you can win: Up to $30K in non-dilutive grant funding

Photo by Zia Syed / Unsplash

PITCH @ Web Summit 2023

If your business model hasn’t undergone a significant change in the past three years and your total funding remains below three million euros, it’s time to shake things up. Get ready to compete against top early-stage startups in a live battle, with an audience of over 2,500 global journalists and CEOs and founders of some of the world’s biggest companies. It’s a chance to make a name for yourself and propel your business to the next level.


Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Date: November 13-16, 2023
Cost: €850, but by pre-registering you can get one extra ticket for free
Industry focus: Technology
Amount you can win: There is no monetary prize, but ask every previous winner and they will tell you the exposure is priceless.

Photo by Svetlana Gumerova / Unsplash

VDS Pitch Competition

VDS2023 Competition is set up by VDS (organized by Startup Valencia) notably, in collaboration with third parties from the Tech Industry (hereafter the “Partner(s)”). The VDS2023 Competition encompasses applications and participation options for startups to exhibit, pitch and/or have meetings during the VDS event (to be held, ab initio, 26 & 27 October 2023) at the Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias, Valencia, Spain. The main purpose of facilitating application information, including personal data, is to be able to offer a platform at the event to boost awareness for shortlisted startups.


Location: Valencia, Spain
Date: November 26-27, 2023
Cost: No price to submit the application.

Photo by Jonny James / Unsplash

Startup World Cup 2023

The top-tier of the startup industry will be present at the Startup World Cup (SWC), organized by Pegasus Tech Ventures, which involves over 60 regional events leading up to the Grand Finale held in Silicon Valley. This event provides finalists with the opportunity to compete for a chance to secure a one million USD investment, while attendees have the chance to network with influential figures within the industry. Distinguished judges from previous years have included renowned individuals such as Steve Wozniak from Apple and Marc Randolph from Netflix.


Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Date: November 29-December 1, 2023
Cost: Tickets to attend have not been announced yet, but there are multiple events organized that anyone can attend, each with different cost
Industry focus: Geared towards improving lives and transforming industries — such as with healthcare, artificial intelligence, robotics, transportation, financial technologies, IoT, augmented reality and agriculture.
Amount you can win: $1,000,000 in investment

Photo by Joonyeop Baek / Unsplash

Slush 2023

Slush is the ultimate gathering place for the coolest kids in town. With events held in Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, and Helsinki (where it all began), the festival/conference focuses on building a strong community and facilitating meetings between founders and investors. The event is organized by successful entrepreneurs, including Nokia’s Risto Siilasmaa, who are dedicated to nurturing the startup ecosystem.


Location: Helsinki
Date: November 30 – December 1, 2023
Cost: Free
Industry focus: Tech
Amount you can win: There is no monetary prize, but you can take advantage of the Slush community; get speed mentoring and resources

Helsinki Cathedral in Autumn Sunset
Photo by Tapio Haaja / Unsplash
Suzanne Newman


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