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Student-owned start-up businesses seeking funding can apply to the Boyd Venture Challenge, beginning now. The seed-fund grant awards up to $20,000 to legally established student-owned startup companies each fall and spring semester. The competition is hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business.

Fall 2017 Boyd Venture Challenge winners Lia Winter and Ryan Cunningham.
Fall 2017 Boyd Venture Challenge winners Lia Winter and Ryan Cunningham.

The challenge is open to any legally established early-stage company owned by a UT student. The student owner(s) must be enrolled in a UT Knoxville or UT Institute of Agriculture undergraduate, master’s, or PhD degree program at the time of application.

To apply, students must submit an application to the Anderson Center by midnight Wednesday, April 4. Applications should consist of an executive summary, request for funds, and milestones that will be accomplished with the funds if awarded. Full application instructions and eligibility details are on the Boyd Venture Challenge website.

Teams that advance to the presentation round will pitch to a panel of local business professionals Friday, April 20.

Tom Graves
Tom Graves

“Boyd Venture Challenge awardees are often able to advance their start-up businesses post competition,” said Tom Graves, Anderson Center director of operations and director of the competition. “The combination of seed funding and valuable feedback from experienced entrepreneurs provides a boost to these early-stage companies.”

The Boyd Venture Challenge is made possible by the generosity of Randy Boyd, founder and executive chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, makers of PetSafe, Invisible Fence, and SportDog brands.

Since 2011, the endowed fund has awarded $337,000 to 35 student-owned start-ups.


Carrie McCamey (865-974-5126,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,