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10 Prestigious Business Competitions for High School Students

Are you a high school student interested in pursuing business in the future? Participating in a business competition will be a great opportunity for you. These competitions are not just about winning; they're real-world challenges that push you to think on your feet, work with a team, and come up with innovative solutions. You will be able to dive into the business world and see what its practical applications are, beyond textbooks and exams.


Getting involved in these contests can also give your resume a serious boost and enhance your applications. When you're applying for internships, college, or even pitching a project, having a business competition on your CV shows you've got hands-on experience and a proactive attitude. These competitions can also serve as valuable material to write about in your statement of purpose. It's solid proof that you're not just focused on your grades but also motivated to make things happen, which can really shine in your college applications and future research projects.


1. DECA

Location: Conferences vary in location (different cities around the US) 

Cost: Fees vary per conference

Contest dates: Varies with most conferences in April

Application deadlines: November 15

Eligibility: All high schools are eligible to join their schools’ chapters 


If you are a high school student with an interest in business, DECA competitions are a great opportunity to consider. These competitions adhere to National Curriculum Standards across essential career clusters such as marketing, business management and administration, finance, and hospitality and tourism. Starting with the Principles of Business Administration Events, first-year DECA members have the opportunity to articulate fundamental business concepts in a competitive format. As you progress, Individual Series Events challenge you to handle complex business scenarios through role-plays in specialized career areas, allowing you to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical setting.


For those who thrive in team environments, Team Decision Making Events allow you to collaborate with a partner to dissect and solve a case study related to your chosen career path. Similarly, the Personal Financial Literacy Event tests your ability to make sound financial decisions using systematic and reliable information. If research interests you, the Business Operations Research Events push you to design, conduct, and present findings on varying annual topics. Meanwhile, Project Management Events require you to utilize comprehensive project management skills from initiation to closure, whether individually or in a team. 


Location: Virtual

Cost: Free

Contest dates: September - December

Application deadlines: Mid-September

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible.


The Wharton Global High School Investment Competition is a free, experiential challenge that allows you to explore investing. You and your team of four to seven members, under the guidance of a teacher serving as your advisor, will explore the intricacies of the financial markets using an online stock market simulator. This competition will allow you to make real-time investment decisions based on current market scenarios and forecasted events.


During the competition, your team will engage deeply in strategy-building, learning how to communicate effectively, assess risk, and apply the principles of diversification. You'll also conduct detailed company and industry analyses, which will help you understand the broader economic factors affecting stock performance. Participating in this competition not only boosts your practical financial skills but also enhances your ability to work collaboratively in a high-stakes environment, preparing you for the business world.


Location: Virtual

Cost: Free

Contest dates: January - October

Application deadlines: January

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible


If you are a high school student interested in  entrepreneurship and innovation, the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge at Silicon Valley is a great opportunity. This competition welcomes students from around the globe to bring their innovative ideas to life through training and development. As a participant, you'll engage in interactive workshops and receive individualized coaching focused on entrepreneurship. Workshops will cover crucial topics such as the Entrepreneurship Mindset, Design Thinking, Marketing & Finance, and Leadership for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).


Throughout the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, you will also experience the rich entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley. Elite executives from leading Silicon Valley companies will mentor you, helping you develop sustainable projects that you will pitch at the competition's culmination. This includes direct dialogues with industry leaders and academics from top institutions like UPenn and UCSB, offering insights into real-world business challenges and innovative practices. You will also be able to contribute to global initiatives like the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.


Location: Virtual

Cost: Free

Contest dates: February - April

Application deadlines: February

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible.


The Blue Ocean Competition is the largest virtual pitch competition for high school students globally, attracting participation from top STEM schools across the United States—139 of the US News and World Report Top 250 STEM high schools. It offers a platform for you to explore and develop entrepreneurial ideas using the Blue Ocean Strategy, which emphasizes creating new market spaces (Blue Oceans) that are uncontested by competitors. This strategy encourages you to pursue both differentiation and low cost, aiming to maximize opportunities while minimizing risks, thereby significantly reducing the likelihood of failure for your business ventures.


Since its inception 9 years ago, the Blue Ocean Competition has grown exponentially from a local to an international event, with participants from 5 continents and 146 countries. As a high school student, you are provided with Blue Ocean tools and templates to help develop and structure your business idea into a compelling pitch. The competition is open to all high school students worldwide, regardless of whether you have a fully fledged business plan or just a nascent idea. 


Location: Conferences vary in location (different cities around the US)  

Cost: Membership fees vary

Contest dates: Dates vary by competition 

Application deadlines: Varies per competition

Eligibility: All high schools students are eligible


Business Professionals of America (BPA) Competition’s Workplace Skills Assessment Program (WSAP) is an intra-curricular component of BPA, designed to combine real-world business skills and leadership development. The WSAP offers competitions in over 90 categories across six Assessment Areas: Finance, Business Administration, Management Information Systems, Digital Communication & Design, Management, Marketing & Communication, and Health Administration. 


BPA also recognizes the challenges some students face with travel and budget constraints, thus offering Virtual Competitions at the national level. These virtual events allow you to engage in national competitions without the need for regional or state qualifiers, ensuring that all BPA student members have the chance to compete, receive recognition, and showcase their skills regardless of their geographical or financial situations. 


Location: Virtual (Finalists make their pitch in Space Center Houston, TX)

Cost: Free

Contest dates:November - April

Application deadlines: November 3

Eligibility: Students between 13-18


In the Conrad Challenge, you’ll begin by forming a team of 2-5 students and selecting a coach to guide you through the process. The first stage, the Activation Stage, runs from August to November, during which you’ll complete your registration and start assembling your ideas and resources. This initial phase sets the groundwork for your project, encouraging you to think broadly and strategically about the issues you want to address and the innovative solutions you can develop.


Progressing through the Conrad Challenge, your next step will be the Lean Canvas Stage, where you must finalize your innovative idea and its category. This stage involves detailed planning using the Lean Canvas model to outline your project’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. Following this, you'll move into the Innovation Stage. Here, you’ll actualize your concept by writing an Innovation Brief, producing an Innovation Video, and designing a website to showcase your project. The culmination of your hard work occurs during the Power Pitch Stage, where finalists are invited to the Conrad Challenge Innovation Summit. At this event, you’ll present your innovation in front of a live panel of judges and compete for scholarships, entrepreneurial support, and the prestigious title of Pete Conrad Scholar.


Location: Virtual 

Cost: Free

Contest dates: June 1 - August 31

Application deadlines: July 31

Eligibility: Students above 13 years old


The Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition is great for those who are driven to create positive social change and contribute to a sustainable future. The competition encourages participants to align their innovative ideas and projects with one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which address pressing global challenges across social, economic, environmental, and health dimensions. You can enter the competition in one of two categories: "idea" for conceptual proposals, or "project" for initiatives that are already underway. 


The process of the competition is structured into three distinct phases. Initially, you submit a short pitch of your idea or project. If your submission meets the established criteria, you advance to the next stage where you will engage with the Entrepreneurial Design Canvas (EDC)—a specially developed tool to help refine and articulate your proposal. Upon completing the requisite courses, your refined EDC is submitted for the second phase where all qualifying ideas and projects are published for community voting. The most popular submissions, as determined by votes, progress to the final phase. Here, an expert jury evaluates these entries and selects the winners, who are celebrated in an online award ceremony. 


Location: Varies per year

Cost: $475

Contest dates: June 10-14

Application deadlines: March 8

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible


In the GENIUS Olympiad Business Competition, you will blend environmental consciousness with entrepreneurial skills. The competition focuses on raising awareness of environmental values within the business sector by encouraging the development of green products or services, or by crafting a social responsibility plan that promotes a positive relationship with society and the environment. Each project, which can be undertaken by up to two students, demands the creation of a comprehensive business plan that serves as an investment proposal. You must prepare to pitch your business idea to judges in a formal setting, equipped with a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation. The presentation is limited to 10 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer session.


Your business plan should offer a detailed analysis of the market including potential buyers, suppliers, current competitors, and cultural attitudes towards the product or technology. It should clearly outline the product or service, define the target market, propose pricing, promotional strategies, and distribution methods. Additionally, the plan must detail operational aspects such as staffing and facilities, aiming to culminate in a clear projection of profit goals. On the social responsibility front, your plan should focus on existing businesses or industries, proposing actionable changes to reduce their environmental footprint. This includes a thorough analysis of the current environmental impact, detailed proposed changes, financial cost assessments, and an evaluation of the market impact post-implementation. 


Location: Newark, Delaware

Cost: Free

Contest dates: January - April

Application deadlines: January

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible


In the Diamond Challenge, you will turn your passions into actionable business or social venture concepts, competing within a global arena for a share of a $100K prize pool. As you develop solutions to problems you care deeply about, you will present your ideas in one of two tracks: business innovation or social innovation. Both tracks are designed to nurture your creativity and passion, with the top three teams in each track receiving substantial awards to advance their ventures—$12,000 for first place, $8,000 for second, and $4,500 for third.


Participation in the Diamond Challenge will connect you with like-minded peers from around the world, gaining invaluable feedback, and exploring future collaborations. This initiative not only aims to discover and support the most promising business ideas but also to cultivate a community of young innovators driven by passion and creativity. For instance, in the 2023 competition, the first place in business innovation went to Omnicore Technologies, which introduced a revolutionary wrist prosthetic enhancing joint functionality with unique movement capabilities.


Location: Virtual

Cost: Free

Contest dates: August 1 - 15

Application deadlines: August

Eligibility: All students between 13 and 19


The Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) competition will allow you to harness entrepreneurial thinking and innovation to solve real-world problems. As a high school or undergraduate student, you can participate in this competition by forming a team and identifying a pressing global need. Your challenge is to create a social enterprise that addresses this need effectively. The process culminates in an international shortlisting, where your team, if selected, will present your final pitch to a panel of judges. 


Founded in 2002, SAGE has become an influential international network with the mission of nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders focused on social enterprises. Initially starting with teams from four countries, the SAGE World Cup has expanded significantly, now incorporating teams from 21 countries and multiple U.S. states. Throughout the academic year, SAGE engages more than 12,000 teens from over 1,200 schools globally, integrating them into a vast community that bridges higher education and the business world. At the end of the scholastic year, SAGE hosts regional and/or national competitive tournaments where teams are required to present a four-page written annual report and a verbal presentation to a panel of judges drawn from prominent community members. 


Bonus - Young Founders Lab

If you’re looking for an incubator program that helps you establish a developed startup in high school, consider the Young Founders Lab! 


The Young Founders Lab is a real-world start-up bootcamp founded and run by Harvard entrepreneurs. In this program, you will work towards building a revenue-generating start-up that addresses a real-world problem. You will also have the opportunity to be mentored by established entrepreneurs and professionals from Google, Microsoft, and X. 

You can access the application link here!


One other option - the Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing research in fields like business or related fields, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business! 


Image Source: Blue Ocean competition logo

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