The AgEnterprise Challenge: Innovation to Application

Winners of the 2018 Ag-Enterprise Challenge

The AgEnterprise Challenge promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture, natural resources, and environmental sustainability by offering awards to student teams for the best new business ideas.


The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has partnered with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to hold its third annual challenge. The competition consists of two rounds. Student teams who are successful in the Semifinal Round will deliver business idea pitches to a panel of distinguished judges in the Final Round. Finalists will compete for $5,500 in awards. In addition, finalists will be better prepared to participate in Idea Shell, the first stage of the Fearless Founders accelerator program at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.


The AgEnterprise Challenge is open to teams of students who are currently enrolled in a degree or lower-division certificate program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Each team must have 1-10 members, with at least one of them currently enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) or conducting research in the Department of Entomology in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS).

Business ideas can address problems or opportunities in any area of agriculture, natural resources, and environmental sustainability, such as:

  • Agricultural Education 
  • Air Quality
  • Bioenergy
  • Energy Conservation
  • Green Infrastructure and Technologies
  • Healthy Food Systems
  • Improving Human Health and Wellbeing
  • Nonfood Products
  • Nutrition
  • Profitable and Sustainable Agricultural Production
  • Protecting and Restoring Environmental Health
  • Protecting the Chesapeake Bay
  • Public Health
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Water Resources
  • Wildlife, etc.



Each team must register for the 2019 AgEnterprise Challenge by filling out the online Registration Form no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on November 5, 2018. 


Teams are encouraged to reach out to members of the Agriculture Innovation to Commercialization (AgI2C) Leadership Committee. There is an AgI2C representative in each department in AGNR, the Institute of Applied Agriculture, the offices for Academic Programs, Development, Communication, and the Dean in AGNR, as well as the Department of Entomology in CMNS. The full list of committee members can be found here.

Team members are also encouraged to attend Dingman Fridays advising sessions that are held every Friday of the semester from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Dingman Center (2518 Van Munching Hall) and open to all UMD students, staff, and alumni. Appointments are required to meet with an advisor. Venture Mentors, Subject Matter Experts, guest advisors, and Dingman staff are available to listen to your idea, offer feedback, and provide actionable next steps. No need to bring a presentation or business plan; just be prepared to share your idea and receive some great advice from Dingman advisors.


Teams will compete for the following awards:

  • 1st Place: $2,500
  • 2nd Place: $1,500
  • 3rd Place: $750
  • Audience Choice Award $750


November 5, 2018: Deadline to register by filling out the online Registration Form.

November 14, 2018: Required Workshop #1 (ESJ 2110, 6-8 p.m.)

December 1, 2018: Semifinal Round. Deadline to fill out the online Semifinal Form.

December 17, 2018: Finalist teams are announced via email and the AgI2C website.

February 6, 2019: Required Workshop #2 (ESJ 1224, 6-8 p.m.)

February 20, 2019: Deadline to email final business pitch presentations and 200-word descriptions to

February 27, 2019: Final Round (ESJ 1224, 6-8 p.m.)

  • Team presentations: Each finalist team delivers a 4-minute presentation, followed by 2 minutes of Q&A with the judges. 
  • Judging criteria:
    • The business idea clearly promotes agriculture, natural resources, and/or environmental sustainability.
    • The business idea uniquely addresses a sizable problem and/or opportunity in the market.
    • Presenter clearly identifies the target customer and potential for entering the market.
    • Presenter clearly articulates a business model that is financially sustainable.
    • The visual aids (e.g., PowerPoint slides) are well designed.
    • The oral presentation is logical and persuasive.
  • Awards and recognition: Immediately following the judging. 


If you have any questions, please send an email to 


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