Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize

Students gather around a laptop working on a project.

New this year, the Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize aims to boost the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship among civil and environmental engineering students.

Now is the time to start developing your idea for a chance to win.

The $5,000 prize is open to individuals or teams of students at both the undergraduate and graduate level who apply their CEE knowledge and skills to develop entrepreneurial ideas to improve the human condition. Contestants can compete for a chance at the prize by conceptualizing entrepreneurial ventures that may help fellow students at Georgia Tech, improve conditions for the Atlanta community and/or impact society more broadly.

Students can also engage with businesses, governments or non-profit organizations to bring their ideas to life.


Applications are  due by Dec 15. Three finalists will be invited to present their innovation and its impact before a panel of judges and HEI Prize will be awarded in the spring semester. There are no strings attached to the $5,000 prize. The winner may use the funds to continue work on their idea, pay for tuition or travel the world!

Who should apply? The contest is open to all students, but good candidates include those participating in events like the Capstone Design Expo, the Origami Engineering Tradeshow, Tech Blitz and the InVenture Prize, as well as CEE classes in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Smart and Sustainable Cities.

Click here to apply. 

For more information, contact Dr. Adjo Amekudzi-Kennedy  or Dr. John E. Taylor.

Student presenting their idea at the Create-X competition

Judging Criteria

Judging. Preliminary round judges and the three-judge panel in the final round will have expertise in engineering and business. The criteria used by these expert judges in their evaluation are:

  • Innovation. Is the idea novel? How does it compare to other ideas that address the same problem?

  • Demand. Is there a demand for the invention? Are people likely to use it?

  • Impact. How big is the potential impact of the invention?  (i.e., How many people, communities, etc., are likely to use it?)

  • Inventor Passion. How passionate is the inventor or team about the idea?

  • Probability of Becoming a Successful Endeavor. Would someone invest in helping make the invention a reality?

Preliminary Round. All proposals will be reviewed in a preliminary round by a panel of judges. In this round, proposers will pitch their ideas in a written proposal no more than 3 pages in length. Judges will score each entrepreneurial project on the five specific criteria above and will also provide a holistic appraisal of the idea. This scoring gives all the proposers feedback on their project and will determine the top three teams to advance to the final round.

Final Round. In this round, the proposers of the final three projects will each give a 10 minute presentation of their project to a panel of expert judges before a live audience, followed by five minutes of Q&A. Afterward, judges will meet in private to evaluate the proposers on the five criteria. A score will be assigned to each category for each project, and the total scores will then determine the winning project.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can a graduate student compete either individually or as part of a team with undergraduates?

Yes. The competition is open to current Georgia Tech undergraduates and graduate students within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. You are eligible to compete if you will be a current student in fall or spring of the current academic year.

Can I do anything I wish with the cash prize?
Yes. You can invest in your invention, or use the prize money for tuition, study abroad, or general expenses.

Can I enter with multiple inventions?
No. Only one invention per student is allowed, regardless of team or individual status.

Do I have to have a working prototype to compete?
No, a prototype is not necessary to compete. A good idea that can be explained is all that is needed, though prototypes would be welcome!

I came up with an idea while employed as a co-op/intern. Can I submit this invention?
Yes, so long as your co-op/intern research advisor approves of you submitting the work as your own.

If I am a co-inventor with others who are not current Georgia Tech students or are non-CEE students, can I still compete with the invention?
Yes, if you fully disclose the contributions by all individuals in your proposal.

If I was being paid as an undergraduate researcher when I came up with an idea related to my research, can I still enter the Higginbotham Entrepreneurial Impact Prize?
Yes, so long as your research advisor approves of you submitting the work as your own.

I developed my idea as part of a class project. Can I submit this idea?
Yes. If this was a group project, we encourage you to submit as a team.