Teams can have up to 6 members, and at least one must be a student of Downing College, or a graduate from Downing.
The deadline for entries to the first round of the competition is midday, 3 January 2022. Entries of the best business ideas will be shortlisted and be offered presentation skills training and the chance to pitch their idea for the chance to win up to £2,000!

If you have more than one idea, you can enter multiple times!


Full Rules and Procedures

A. Competition Entry Criteria

  1. Teams must have at least one current Downing student, or a Downing graduate.
  2. Membership of teams is open to students of other colleges within the University of Cambridge.
  3. Students may enter as individuals or as part of a team of up to six members.
  4. Downing Fellows and others outside of the College may act as advisors to entrants.
  5. Existing businesses set up and run by students may be entered into the Competition provided that all other entry criteria are satisfied.
  6. Enterprises based on events will be eligible for entry.
  7. Individuals and teams may submit more than one entry per competition.
  8. Individuals and teams may enter competitions in more than one year.
  9. Winners will be eligible to enter in future years either as individuals or as teams as long as the other criteria are satisfied.
  10. All entrants will be required to behave ethically and honestly throughout the whole competition.
  11. The Board may at its discretion disqualify any entrant and withdraw funding at any time.

B. Business Ideas stage: ‘£2,000 for one page’ Prize

  1. The competition will open in the Michaelmas Term and entry details will be published within the University and on the Downing College, JCR, and MCR websites (subject to the consent of the JCR and MCR Committees).
  2. Preparation of proposals must not place excessive demands on undergraduates during term-time.  We will monitor this carefully.
  3. Entries of the best business ideas will reviewed by the Board for shortlisting.  Those teams which are shortlisted will be offered a mentor from the Board, presentation skills training, and the opportunity to pitch their idea to the Downing Enterprise Board and other spectators in the Howard Theatre.
  4. Prizes of up to £2,000 for the best pitches may be offered following the pitch event after discussion by the Downing Enterprise Board.  The number and quantum of prizes awarded will be at the discretion of the Board.

C. Business Plan stage

  1. The Enterprise Board may invite the proposers of the best business ideas to prepare a full business plan which will be considered by the Board for investment.  There is no obligation on entrants to accept this offer or to implement a business plan at a future date. However, if in the future a team does decide to implement its idea, there is an expectation that the College through Downing Enterprise would be given the right of first refusal i.e. the option to invest before any other potential investors are approached.
  2. Undergraduate teams wishing to proceed to this stage must obtain the written consent of their Tutors and Directors of Studies.  A form will be provided for this purpose and must be submitted before any work on the business plan commences.
  3. The Board will guide and advise each team on the production of a business plan and members of the Board may act as mentors to each team.
  4. Each plan must clearly state the business objectives to be achieved, the timeframe, the capital required, any legal and regulatory conditions which might apply and a revenue and profit forecast. The Board will only provide funding up to a maximum of £25,000 but each proposal should set out the total funding required if it exceeds this amount.  Individual members of the Board may choose to make an additional investment in a private capacity on terms consistent with those agreed with the College through Downing Enterprise.
  5. Team members may begin work on the business plan at any time after the invitation to prepare a business plan for Downing Enterprise has been accepted.   However, Downing undergraduates will be expected to give priority to their academic work during term-time and must not spend more than two hours per week on the project until after their exams have ended.  The College will monitor this carefully.
  6. Those who have been invited to submit full business plans will be notified individually of the deadline for submission.  The plan must be sent by email to Downing Enterprise.

D.  Investment stage

  1. Teams comprised exclusively or mostly of undergraduates will be required, if invited, to present their business plans to the September meeting of the Downing Enterprise Board.  The date will be determined and notified to the team as early as possible.  This is to enable undergraduates to give priority to their exams and to allow time over the summer vacation for business plans to be developed.
  2. The Board may select one or more teams to receive investment up to a maximum value of £25,000 per team subject to conditions set out in a letter of agreement or legal documentation to be signed by team members.  The Board will determine the exact value of the funding, the method of investment, and any conditions attached to its use.  Some of the funding may be invested by individual members of the Board in conjunction with Downing Enterprise.

E. General Investment Conditions

  1. Funding may take the form of an investment in return for a share of equity in the business, a convertible loan, a loan requiring repayment with interest after a specified period of time, or some other appropriate form of funding.  This and the terms and conditions of funding will be discussed with each winning team as appropriate and a letter or legal documentation will be drafted. A convertible loan will be the normal method of investment.
  2. Downing Enterprise reserves the right to withdraw funding if it is not used for the purposes for which it was intended or if, in the opinion of the Board, the use of the funding brings either Downing Enterprise or the College into disrepute or causes other harm to the College or members of the Board.

F. Implementation Stage

  1. During term-time undergraduates must spend no more than two hours per week on implementing their business plans.
  2. The progress of teams will be monitored by Downing Enterprise normally for a period of 12 months from the date of the awarding of funding or longer if appropriate.
  3. Winners may establish limited liability companies for their enterprises and the Board will advise in this respect.
  4. Teams will be required to report regularly and to present accounts to the Board until it deems this to be no longer necessary.  The Board will allocate one or more of its number as mentors to guide the enterprises for a limited period.

G. Post-competition

  1. If further funding is needed at a later stage winners are required to offer all members of the Board an option to invest independently of the College and to advise and guide the enterprise in a private capacity subject to the agreement of the business owners and other members of the Board. This should be done before approaching any other potential investors.
  2. The College asks the winners of the Competition:
    • to remember Downing College if and when they become successful in the future  and to give consideration to making philanthropic donations to the College in  support of its educational and charitable objectives;
    • to take part in future Downing enterprise competitions at Downing College as investors,  judges and mentors as appropriate with the agreement of the Board.
  3. The Board may at any time change, withdraw or add to any of the above conditions at its discretion.