What is is an investor in young innovators solving important problems. We have developed a new model for funding and building important world changing companies. Every year we choose 50 of the most innovative startups from universities around the world and award them each up to $100K. We then work intensely with each team for 12 months to build a sustainable foundation for growth based on 8D, our company building science. But our relationship doesn’t end there, we lead Seed and Series A rounds in promising teams. Alongside funding, our alumni network of the smartest young innovators on the planet continues to help long into the future.

What is 8D and how does it work?

8D is designed for young innovators to help you build a solid foundation for your company’s growth. We take a class through 8D every 12 months. There are eight dimensions; idea, team, product, business planning, market development, customer development, operations and fundraising. Each dimension has a series of interactive challenges that you take online. Every challenge takes you through the development of a critical area. Your mentors help you with the challenges in weekly office hours. Once a quarter all of the teams in a class meet in person to present the results of their challenges and meet investors, customers and partners at our quarterly forums.

How do I apply to

Applications are accepted online on our website at We accept and evaluate applications in cycles from November through March or until our class (up to 50 teams) is full. Applying early gives you a significant advantage. When you apply, you will be asked to answer a few questions and attach a presentation. If there is a match between your project and our mission then we will contact you to present to our associates and executives. Following your presentation, we will evaluate your application using 8D and the eight dimensions. We will share this evaluation and feedback with you.

Who is eligible?

Students, faculty and recent alumni (last 18 months) from accredited universities around the world are eligible to apply. Teams involved in innovation and entrepreneurial programs (e.g. accelerators, incubators and competitions) at our Partner Universities are also eligible to apply. Your team must have at least one, full-time eligible person. We make the final determination regarding eligibility.

Is there a focus on specific areas?

We work with young innovators across a broad range of industries, technologies, markets and geographies. While we don’t focus on specific areas, we do look for significant innovation in technology, product and business.

How are applications evaluated?

We assess each application on the 8D dimensions. What matters most is the impact of your idea, who is on your team and how thoughtful you have been about your business model. The eight dimensions include:

  • Idea,
  • Team
  • Product
  • Business Planning
  • Market Development
  • Customer Development
  • Operations
  • Fundraising

Each dimension is as important as the other in building a company, but early on during the application process, we put more emphasis on Idea, Team and the business model aspect of Business Planning. The best way to get started is to engage with our associates at your university. See a list of our current associates.

Can I nominate a team for

Yes you can! It’s fast and easy to refer a team.

What are Awards? Awards are convertible equity agreements that don’t need to be paid back and don’t accumulate interest. The award converts into equity when you raise a priced equity round in the future. Based on the terms of the Equity Agreement, awards convert into approximately 1% (for $10,000 awards) and 3% (for $100,000 awards). There is no discount in the equity agreement. The equity is owned by the, a US-based 501(C)(3) non-profit foundation with a mission help young innovators build world changing companies. To accept an award participants must be present at the World Founder Forum, have a legally registered company in their geography and sign the Equity Agreement. You can download the Equity Agreements on our resources page.

What is the World Founder Forum?

Every June we host the World Founder Forum, our annual conference for young innovators. Our entering class and all alumni are invited to attend. The conference takes place over one week during the last half of June. In 2014 the WFF was held at ESCP in Paris France. In 2015 the WFF was hosted by KTH in Stockholm Sweden. The 2016 venue and dates have not yet been announced.

How does work with Universities?

Every year we evaluate new Partner Universities. These are schools where we have an extra special relationship usually with the faculty, administration or student organizations. Our goal is to provide parts of 8D back to the university in the form of guest lectures, workshops and special events. We focus our recruiting efforts for new teams on our partner universities.

See a list of our partner universities and learn how to become a partner.

What are Associates?

Our Associate represent at their university. Associates benefit by learning how to identify and evaluate opportunities and build companies. Associates commit to working with us on a volunteer basis for the current academic year.

If you are selected, your responsibilities will include:

  • build a partnership between and your university,
  • organize campus events,
  • recruit innovators to apply to and
  • evaluate applications with us from your university.

All current and past Associates are invited to attend our Quarterly Forums and The World Founder Forum. Learn more about becoming a associate.

What is Ventures? Ventures is our fund that makes further investments in companies. Our investments range from $250K to $3.0M. We are an active early stage investor providing hands on support and guidance.