Is there a big problem in the world that you’re dying to solve? Have you always dreamed of being your own boss? Are you bursting with new ideas? Are you just curious about #startuplife? Looking for a good resume-builder? Then the Zahn Center’s Startup Incubator Competition might be for you…

Learn more about what the competition is all about and how to apply below. The Early Decision deadline is Sunday, October 24th at 11:59PM. The final deadline is Sunday, November 14th at 11:59PM.

What is it?

The Zahn Innovation Center is a startup incubator at The City College of New York that offers programming to encourage entrepreneurial thinking & growth. We believe everyone at CUNY has the potential to be a changemaker, and we want to help you innovate! The startup incubator competition will provide the foundation for the creation of CUNY startup ventures while supporting and strengthening the skillsets of our entrepreneurs to enable success. You apply now, but the program takes place during the Spring 2022 Semester, leading up to a pitch at the end of the semester where you will compete for prizes. Right now, all of the programming will happen online until further notice.

How do I enter the competition?

You’ll need to apply via the application found at the bottom of this page to be considered for an interview. Once interviewed, we’ll let you know if you are selected.

What should I expect from the competition?

The competition is an incubator program, so by participating, you’ll gain experience and mentorship. During the Spring 2022 Semester, you’ll attend weekly virtual workshops about a variety of business topics. You’ll be required to meet with Zahn staff & other industry mentors to track your progress. We’ll give you the education you need to get your idea off the ground, and you’ll work towards building a pitch deck, conducting market research, and creating a basic prototype of your idea. 

Types of ideas that we accept:

  • Physical products
  • Service-based businesses
  • Apps/software
  • Nonprofits & social enterprises
  • Tech-driven innovations
  • This year, we’ll be taking a special look at applications that solve for inequity!

Types of ideas we don’t support:

  • Purely brick and mortar businesses (store fronts, restaurants/cafes/food trucks, boutiques)
  • Multi-Level marketing businesses

Who can apply to the competition?

Our program is for CUNY students, so each team has to have at least one CUNY student on the team. (If you are graduating CUNY in December 2021, you still count as a student). 

Note that while you can apply as an individual, you’ll need to build out your team by the start of the Spring 2022 semester. Teams have a minimum of two individuals and a maximum of five.

What is the deadline to apply? 

Below is the application to the 2022 Zahn Center Incubator Competition. In order to be considered, you’ll need to fill out this application in whole by one of the two deadlines below.

1. Sunday, October 24th, 2021 at 11:59PM is our “Early Decision Deadline.” Those who apply by this date will be considered early with a smaller pool of applicants, meaning you may have a better chance of acceptance. You may be asked to interview during the first weeks of November, and may be selected before the final deadline. This is a plus because you’ll have more time to build out your team. AND, if we’re not 100% sure about asking you to interview at this stage, we will contact you with feedback to make your application better to update it & finish by the final deadline. 

2. Sunday, November 14th, 2021 at 11:59PM is our final deadline. Everyone must apply by this time to be considered for the 2022 Incubator. Interviews will be held after Thanksgiving.

Other things to note before starting this application:

  1. You can submit your application & have the ability to edit it any time before the deadline. We encourage you to submit as soon as possible.
  2. You’ll receive an email from Google Forms with a copy of your application. That email will give you access to edit it, so don’t delete the email!
  3. The application is 11 pages, but most of the pages are asking you about your team members (it’s fast!). 

Questions: Email us at

Track Descriptions:

The Kaylie Hardware Prize was developed and sponsored by CCNY Alum Harvey Kaylie, Founder of Mini-Circuits. This category celebrates all things hardware. Qualified startups include physical products and devices that may or may not include a connected (smart) technological aspect.

The Standard Chartered Women + Tech Prize is sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank as part of the Women in Technology Incubator at the Zahn Center. The category celebrates the role of women in building innovative businesses leveraging technology. Startups in this category must be led by women and/or have a team made up of at least 50% women.

The Zahn Social Impact Prize is sponsored by CCNY Alum Irwin Zahn. This category acts as a catalyst for the spread of social entrepreneurship on campus, and encourages students to develop a global perspective on impact. Startups in this category are challenged to build ventures with a sustainable revenue model, whose primary objective is social change or environmental stewardship. They may pursue either a nonprofit or for-profit model.

The Zahn Software Prize is sponsored by CCNY Alum Irwin Zahn. Startups in this category are challenged to develop ventures that use technology to solve problems otherwise untouched. Their products include transformative new apps, software, database tools, e-commerce sites, or technological devices.

Last Updated: 11/10/2021 09:34