Napier Rice Launch Challenge

The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) is Rice’s new venture competition, where undergraduate, graduate, and MBA students pitch their business ventures to win a share of $100,000+ in equity-free funding, all while launching their venture on the biggest stage of the year.


Students from all areas of study are encouraged to apply, as a solo founder or as a team. 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. 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
  • The venture must be founded and/or lead by a current Rice undergraduate, graduate, or MBA student
  • The venture doesn’t have to be fully launched to apply but must be more than an idea
  • Applications are closed for 2024.

NRLC Prizes

In celebration of Rice’s rich diversity of entrepreneurial endeavors, we are proud to offer a variety of prizes including:

  • First Place — $50,000
  • Second Place — $25,000
  • Third Place — $15,000
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Award — $2,500
  • Audience Choice Award — $2,000
  • Frank Liu Jr. Prize for Creative Innovation in Music, Fashion, & the Arts — $1,500
  • Outstanding Achievement in Artificial Intelligence Prize — $1,000
  • Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prize — $1,000
  • Outstanding Achievement in Consumer Goods Prize — $1,000

How It Works

NRLC Round 1

Venture teams will present a 5 minute pitch on Zoom, followed by a 5-minute of Q&A from a panel of judges from across the Rice startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

To accommodate different spring break schedules, MBAs will give their Round 1 pitches  on Thursday, March 14, 2024. Undergraduates and non-MBA grad students will give their Round 1 pitches on Thursday, March 21, 2024.


NRLC Round 2

Round 2 will follow a similar format to Round 1. However, in Round 2, teams will pitch live, in-person at the Liu Idea Lab. NRLC Round 2 will be held on Thursday, March 28, 2024.


NRLC Championships

The five finalist teams will present a five-minute pitch, followed by Q&A from our judges, live, on-stage, in front of the whole Rice entrepreneurship community. Judges will deliberate and select 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Additional prizes will also be awarded. NRLC Championships will be held on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at Grand Hall in the Rice Memorial Center.

How to Prepare

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

  • Walking you through any questions you may have about the readiness of your venture
  • Conducting a dedicated deck review session
  • Providing feedback on your pitch and helping develop your delivery

Self-Service Resources

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.

2024 NRLC brought to you by