Napier Rice Launch Challenge

The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) is Rice’s new venture competition, where undergraduate, graduate, MBA students, and alumni pitch their business ventures for a chance to win up to $75,000 in equity-free funding across winning teams, all while launching their venture on the biggest stage of the year.

Student and Alumni Track Competitions

To better serve our entrepreneurial community, we’ve designed dedicated student and alumni NRLC competitions. With two tracks, we are able to offer more finalist spots (and $$$) to Rice startups.

Student Track

Application Deadline: 2023 Applications open in January 2023

Round One: Late March 2023

Championships: Late April 2023

Alumni Track

Application Deadline: Late May

Decisions: Early June

Championships: Late June


Applications for alumni are now closed.

Alumni from all areas of study are encouraged to apply, along with alumni from any graduating year. If you are a Rice student who will graduate by May 2022, you can apply to the alumni track competition.

Solo founders and founder teams are welcomed to apply. If applying as a team, members or partners do not need to have a Rice background, however, the co-founder pitching is required to be a Rice student or alumnus. Additionally, if applying as a team, please submit only one application. You will have an opportunity to list all team members on the application.


Requirements to Apply

  • One application per team.
  • A maximum of 5 members per team. You may also apply as a solo founder.
  • You must submit a 5-minute video of your pitch.
  • The venture must be Rice alumni founded, with the alumni pitching.
  • The venture doesn’t not have to be fully launched to apply but must be more than an idea.

Office Hours

We’ll sit with you one-on-one and walk through any hesitations you may have about the “readiness” of your venture.  Office hours are virtual. Grab a time slot here >>

How to Prepare

  • Sample pitch video to give you an idea of what a good pitch sounds like
  • Sign up for our email based course “How to Deliver a Winning Pitch at NRLC”


How It Works

In your application, you will submit a 5-minute video of your venture’s pitch. We will then reach out with decisions about who will move on to the championships.

The alumni championships will be virtual on Zoom. The 6 finalist teams will present a 5-minute pitch, followed by a 7-minute Q&A from our judges. 

Judges will deliberate and select 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. The audience will also have a chance to choose a venture to receive the Audience Choice Award.

How We Help You Prepare

Lilie will help you refine your venture and prepare you to give an award-winning pitch by:

  • Pairing your team with a coach who will conduct a dedicated deck review session
  • Providing your team with mentorship sessions with seasoned entrepreneurs to provide feedback on your pitch and help develop your delivery
  • Hosting working sessions in the Liu Idea Lab where you can collaborate directly with Lilie staff

Thank you to our 2022 Sponsors and Supporters!

We are extremely grateful for the generosity of our community. For their sponsorship and support in fostering entrepreneurship at Rice, we’d like to thank:

Dacia and Lanham Napier, in honor of Al Napier

Runsi Sen, MBA 2004

The Liu Family, in honor of Frank Liu, Jr.

Chevron Technology Ventures

Interested in sponsoring?

Are you looking to gain exposure to Houston’s newest and most promising startup ventures, as well as first-class entrepreneurial talent? Or are you looking to partner with potential long-term clients? Contact our team at to see how you can support this experience and join us in the transformation of Houston’s innovation ecosystem.

2022 NRLC is brought to you by