Innovator Competition

The EPIC Innovator competition aims to identify and recognize entrepreneurial students and faculty with a focus on energy. Individuals or teams from any discipline within UNC Charlotte are invited to submit ideas, projects, technology concepts, or prototypes that they believe are worthy of further exploration and funding. EPIC Affiliates can become engaged with participants either as short-term reviewers of their work, longer-term mentors, financial supporters, early-term investors, as is deemed appropriate. All submissions need to be energy-related. The program is generously sponsored by the EPIC Affiliates.

Open Solicitation

The solicitation is open to UNC Charlotte students, faculty, and staff. All proposals must be energy-related. To participate in the solicitation, interested individuals must provide the following documentation and complete the application form.

  • One page (max) abstract describing the project/concept/technology (technology details)
  • One page (max) resume of each team member

2022-2023 Timeline

  • December 2022 – Competition Announced
  • January 25 (12:00-1:00 p.m.) – Information Session #1
  • February 2 (12:00-1:00 p.m.) – Information Session #2
  • February 5 – Application Deadline
  • February 15 – Five finalists selected and assigned mentor
  • February-April – Finalists work with their mentor on their idea and presentation
  • April 5, 2023 (4:00-6:00 p.m.) – Finalists present to the EPIC Affiliates

Information Sessions

Wednesday, January 25 AND Thursday, February 2 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EPIC Building (room info will be sent to registrants) Lunch will be served RSVP HERE (required)

Criterion used by panel

  • Value: need/desire, is it different, value proposition
  • Market Potential: how big (# units and/or $) is the market (i.e. how many can be sold and at what cost)
  • Idea/Concept: creativity/ ingenuity, is it transformative, is it realizable
  • Impact: on society, on market, sustainability, what is its potential
  • Potential for Scalability
  • Delivery: message, how is it communicated, is the delivery clear
  • Relevancy: energy-related
Participant Selection

In early February, a committee comprised of EPIC Affiliates reviews all proposals and selects up to five teams/individuals as finalists. The finalists are assigned a mentor to guide them through the process and help them prepare for the presentation. They will then present to a larger EPIC Affiliate committee in April where the top three teams/individuals are selected to receive awards.

Event & Presentations

Competition Date: April 5, 2023 from 4:00-6:00 p.m.
The selected teams present their ideas in April to a panel composed of EPIC Affiliates. Each team has 10-12 minutes to present and afterwards, the panel has 10 minutes to provide the presenter(s) with feedback and ask questions. The event ends with a 30-minute networking reception where three teams will receive one of the following awards:


1st prize: $1,000
2nd prize: $500
3rd prize: $300

End of Round

After the event, EPIC Affiliates decide on the level of support, if any, (mentor, financial support, etc.) they would like to provide to any of the teams/individuals.

Ventureprise – EPIC Innovators Collaboration

Participants in the EPIC Innovators Program are immediately eligible for the Ventureprise Launch NSF I-Corps program. Teams are awarded up to $3,000 in travel stipends to conduct customer discovery interviews and attend industry conferences to explore the commercial possibilities of their ideas and research. Ventureprise will provide commercialization training to University faculty and student participants. Upon completion of the program, participants will be eligible for additional NSF commercialization funding opportunities in excess of $1 million. Previous Ventureprise participants who have not submitted their idea or proposal to the Innovator Competition are welcome to do so if it aligns with the above energy focus.

For questions contact Christine Biela at