The NSF National Deaf College Innovation Challenge

NSF National Deaf College Innovation Challenge

Compete with students from other colleges! Winning teams receive $3000!

Sponsored by NSF I-Corps Grant

Administered by the Simone Center and National Technical Institute for the Deaf


Established in 2018, National Deaf College Innovation Challenge’s purpose is to show college students' innovative ideas from all over America! These innovation ideas will be for technological solutions that are STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) related.

The purpose of this competition is to help you to change the world! 

Click HERE to apply now!

Application deadline: May 15th, 2020

Must be available between 12:00pm - 2:30pm EST Tuesdays May 19 - June 23 for online training.



  1. At least 2 Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing members or led by a Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing student.
  2. This competition is open to any full-time college students. Students participating in NTID's The Next Big Idea can apply.
  3. Represent a college.
  4. STEM based idea (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math).
  5. The idea cannot be based on an already existing operational business venture.
  6. Each team must have a coach, or another designated representative from the college program. A coach may be a member of the faculty, staff or another designated representative.
  7. Members of the team must be committed for up to one year to recieve coaching from I-Corps.


Innovation Challenge Process & Application Questions


NSF National Deaf Innovation Challenge Application Details

Application due date: May 15th, 2020


    Applications for this cohort are now open. Click HERE to apply now!


    Application Questions

    1. Describe your early stage product or service that has foreseeable commercial impact. These ideas will need to be STEM-based (science, technology, engineering or math).
    2. How is your idea unique?
    3. What problem does your idea seek to solve or what gap in the marketplace does it seek to fill?
    4. Describe your target market.
    5. Who are the potential consumers and/or users?
    6. What value does this product or service add to their lives?
    7. Describe any potential challenges you see to delivering this product or service.


    Competition Process

    First round:

    Each team will submit an application and a 7 minute video that is a concise and well-practiced description of a new innovative STEM based business idea. The 7 minute video should include:

    • The innovation idea and the problem that it’s intended to solve.
    • An explanation of the scientific concepts behind the idea.
    • The feasibility of the idea and potential benefits for consumers.
    • The market and the size of the market for this innovation.
    • Your competitive advantage
    • Your team structure/roles
    • Plan for development of the idea

    The top three winning teams will recieve $3,000 in I-Corps funding to develop their idea. Each team will meet once a week for a 5-week online training with an experienced entrepreneurial coach!  In addition, each team will recieve prototyping assistance, training and mentoring from qualified I-Corps coaches to help them further strengthen thier innovation. All training and mentoring will occur online and through accessible videos and other video-based technology.


    The Course starts Tuesday, May 19 and ends June 23. It will be online and accessible for all, - interpreters will be provided.

    Classes are taught by faculty members from RIT/NTID and the Saunders College of Business.

    Tuesday, May 19 12:00pm – 2:30pm EST

    Tuesday, May 26 12:00pm – 2:30pm EST

    Tuesday, June 2 12:00pm – 2:30pm EST

    Tuesday, June 9 12:00pm – 2:30pm EST

    Tuesday, June 23 12:00pm – 2:30pm EST


    Second Round:

    For the final round, the three teams will submit a final 10 minute video. This video, which will included a refined version of their original idea (based on training, mentoring and coaching) and should cover the following:

    • The innovation idea and the problem that it’s intended to solve.
    • The feasibility of the idea and potential benefits for consumers.
    • The market and the size of the market for this innovation.
    • How your idea has evolved throughout the I-Corps training program
    • Plans for future/execution of business or idea

    One (1) finalist will be selected from the three teams and will be designated the NSF National Deaf Innovation Challenge champion. The finalist team will continue to receive personalized coaching and mentoring for 10 weeks from qualified I-Corps coaches and mentors. The finalist team will receive an additional $3000 for prototyping or customer discovery travel.



      Questions? Email Scot Atkins


      Past National Deaf Innovation Challenge Winners

      2018: "Deaf 360"


      2019: "Thinking Hands"


      For more information, contact Scot Atkins.