Napier Rice Launch Challenge

The Napier Rice Launch Challenge

The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge Startup Competition is Rice’s internal startup competition, awarding cash prizes to Rice-affiliated teams. Students and alumni enter business ideas (high growth ventures or small business ideas) to compete in their track’s championships hosted in the Spring.


Apply to compete yourself or come out to network with Rice’s entrepreneurship community and support Rice students and alumni as they pitch their business ideas for a chance to win cash prizes. Attendance is open to Rice students, Rice alumni, and friends of Rice.

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. So, what can you expect if you decide to compete?

Student Track

Application Deadline: March 3rd

Round One: March 25th

Championships: Late April – Date TBD

Alumni Track

Application Deadline: May 27th

Round One: June 10th

Championships: Late June – Date TBD


Applications open in early January and close by the date listed above, determined by your track. Students 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 will have the option to apply for both the student and alumni track competitions.

Team members or partners do not need to have a Rice background, however, the competitor pitching is required to be a Rice student or alumni.

Requirements to Apply

  • Less than $1 million in funding raised
  • Less than $500k in annual revenue
  • Already launched and operating, or incorporated with the intent to launch the product/service within the next 6-9 months
  • For students, the venture must be founded and/or lead by a current Rice undergraduate or graduate student
  • For alumni, the venture must be alum(na) founded, with the alum(na) pitching
  • All backgrounds and areas of study are welcome to apply

Round One

Competitors will prepare a 5-minute pitch and accompanying presentation for review by a panel of judges. Teams moving on to the Championships will be announced within 24 hours after your track’s Round One date mentioned above.


Before the final round, Lilie will help you refine your venture and prepare you to give an award-winning pitch, with:

  • Mentor session with seasoned entrepreneurs to develop your ideas
  • Pitch training workshops to polish your presentation

During the Championships, your recording will be followed by Q&A from our judges, and the top pick will be voted on by the audience.

Thank you to our 2021 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

T-Minus Solutions

Mercury Fund

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.

2021 NRLC was Brought to you by