PCV Prize Official Rules

The PCV Prize is an annual student climate tech startup competition hosted by Penn Climate Ventures at the University of Pennsylvania.

1. Competition Tracks

There are two groups of tracks: Themed Tracks and the High School Track.

Themed Tracks

  • Waste and Circularity

    • Excessive waste
    • Landfills (lack of proper on-site waste management); leakage
    • Profit-based regulations
    • Mislabeling of “green” technologies
    • Toxic waste
    • Contamination & improper recycling
  • Energy and Transportation

    • Poor renewable energy grid stability
    • Transportation with net-zero carbon emissions
    • Inadequate energy storage & transportation (particularly solar energy)
    • Insufficient electric vehicle charging infrastructure
    • Unequal energy transition for low-income communities
    • Lack of renewable energy infrastructure
    • Electric vehicle long-distance range anxiety
  • Food and Agriculture

    • Rising demand for food globally;
    • Loss of biodiversity during farming;
    • Lack of improvement in farming productivity and food system resiliency;
    • Increased and more intense natural hazards impacting farms;
    • Hunger, poverty, and malnutrition;
    • Unsustainable usage of natural resources
  • Wild Card

High School Track | In Partnership with Zipline Theory

Teams competing in the High School Track are NOT required to adhere to a specific topic but still must be related to climate action.

For more details about the high school track, see here

2. Eligibility

Individual Eligibility

All students enrolled at any university or high school globally or on gap year are eligible to compete.

Team Eligibility

PCV Prize teams compete in groups of 1-5. Depending on your track, different eligibility rules may apply. The PCV Prize team reserves the right to determine a team’s eligibility.

For All Teams

  • You do NOT need to have an incorporated business to apply; all concepts are welcome, whether it's just a great idea or a revenue-making startup
  • If you do have an established startup, you must not have received more than $25K in external funding, dilutive or non-dilutive.

For Teams competing in Themed Tracks

All team members must be currently enrolled students, at either the high school, undergrad, or graduate school level. We recommend teams solely consisting of high school members to participate in the high school track.

For High School Teams

All team members must be currently enrolled in a high school anywhere around the world.

3. Registration

All competitors need to register for the PCV Prize. Registrants receive the latest updates on all events and sessions.

Verify your eligibility by registering individually here!

Team registration is now open here!

(Individual competitors must also register as a team.)

4. Prize

The top 3 winning finalists will receive $5000, $2500, and $1000 respectively. All competitors will have access to speaking events and mentorship opportunities from industry leaders.

5. Rubric

Category / Criterion Points
Problem / 15
Has the team conducted thorough research into the climate-related problem they are targeting? Is there evidence that they have gathered unique and specific knowledge during information discovery?
Solution / 30
Is the team capable of implementing their proposed solution?
Does the team have a deep understanding of the inner workings of their solution?
Environmental Impact Analysis / 20
Has the team conducted a thorough analysis of their environmental impact? (i.e. both quantitatively & qualitatively, etc.)
Does this idea specifically address climate change?
Market / Competitive Landscape / 15
Has the team conducted a thorough review of their market?
Has the team conducted a thorough review of their potential competitors?
Has the team established or identified their competitive advantage?
Style and Presentation / 10
Was the team’s video presentation easy to follow and understand?
Did the team create a high-quality, professional slide deck?
Wow Factor [Anything that makes them truly stand out] / 10
Total Points / 100

6. Submissions and Judging

First Round Judging:

High School Track — Due 4/3

Themed Track — Due 4/8

Before the first round, teams will have the opportunity to attend:
  • (OPTIONAL) 1-on-1 office hours with industry experts
  • (OPTIONAL) 1-on-1 office hours with the PCV consulting team
Submission Materials:
  • Pitch video (maximum 5 minutes, recommended 3-4)
  • Pitch deck (maximum 20 slides, recommended 10-12)
  • (OPTIONAL) 2 supplemental PDFs (each PDF is maximum 10 pages)
First-round pitches are ranked on:
  • Technical feasibility
  • Potential environmental impact
  • Financial viability

Second Round Judging — Due 4/9

(*High School Track only)

The 12 teams that won the previous round will now have their projects judged live by professionals in various fields such as engineering, sustainability, economics, etc. This round will incorporate live judging during time slots that teams can sign up for. Live Judging will occur on Zoom. These judges will decide on two teams to move forward to the final round.

Two finalists from each track will move on to the Final Round.

Final Round Judging — Due 4/16

During our finalists week, our 10 finalists will receive:

  • 1-on-1 Mentorship
  • Investor Intros

Finalists compete LIVE for first, second, and third place awards in the closing session.