Napier Rice Launch Challenge

2021 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. NRLC will be hosted on the evenings of April 22nd for student startups, and June 24th for alumni startups. 

Support Rice students and recent alumni as they pitch their business ideas for a chance to win cash prizes. Watch the pitches, network with the Rice entrepreneurship community, and vote for your favorite idea! Attendance is open to Rice students, Rice alumni, and friends of Rice.

This year has been reimagined with individual student and alumni tracks

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 this year as a competitor?

Student Track

Application Deadline: March 2nd

Round One: March 25th

Championships: April 22nd

Alumni Track

Application Deadline *new date!*: May 31st

Round One: June 3rd

Championships: June 24th


To apply, please complete either our Student Track Application by March 2nd or Alumni Track Application by May 31st. After submitting an application, we will follow up with additional materials and you will be asked to record and submit a 5-min video of your pitch by May 31st. This video will be evaluated in our first round, and those moving on to the final showcase will be announced within 24hours.

Students from all areas of study are encouraged to apply, along with alumni from any graduating year. 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
  • The venture must be alum(na) founded, with the alum(na) pitching
  • Alumni from any graduating year and background are encouraged to apply
  • Additional team members/partners do not need to have a Rice background

Round One

Alumni competitors will record a 5-minute pitch and send it to by May 31st for review. Startups moving on to the Championships will be announced within 24 hours after Round One.


Before our 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 PAget Kern at to see how you can support this student experience and join us in the transformation of Houston’s innovation ecosystem.

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