President's Startup Challenge - Entrants Guidance

Thank you for your interest, here are the key guides to entering our competition this year:

This document provides:

  • The key timelines
  • The prizes
  • Entry requirements for eligibility and submission
  • Feedback from previous competitions judges feedback to help you optimise your entry submission
  • The themes of interest for us this year



Entries have to be submitted via our competition website before 23:59:59 EST on Sunday September 15th 2019.

Finalist notified: as close to Monday 30th September 2019

In this period, finalists must:

  • Arrange travel and accommodation (if needed) to the conference
  • Provide materials to prepare a poster (we will provide an areas for these for our attendees to review )

Live pitching at the Boston conference: Wednesday 10th October (finalists must attend to receive their prize)


Two winners prizes:

  1. The Grand Prize: Scored by a set of judges
  2. Audience vote: we provide limited guidance to the audience, so their votes are based on their individual preference for your pitch and proposal

Both winners will receive:

  • $20000
  • 6 months mentorship and support from Pistoia Alliance members (either an individual or a set of experts (details to be confirmed) - we aim to find people who are the right fit to help the startup at the point in their journey

Each runner up at the final will receive $5000

We are also looking into providing a practice and support day for the finalists the day before the conference, we will announce that closer to the date.

Entry Requirements:


The competition is open only to corporations (including not-for-profit corporations and other nonprofit organizations), limited liability companies, partnerships, and other legal entities that, at the time of entry are legally formed, and employ fewer than fifty (50) people and have not achieved more than $5 million in sales per annum. The Product or service must not have been available more than 3 years.

Previous winners cannot enter the competition with the same product, they can however enter with a new product.

Previous finalists can enter the competition

See full terms and conditions for details.

What you need to supply:

It is a simple set of requirements to allow our judges to select the five finalists. It's just two questions and your business proposal in pdf form:

  1. A brief text summary of their proposal / Unique Selling Point that the Pistoia Alliance is permitted to reproduce publicly.
  2. Explanation how their proposal is relevant to the Pistoia Alliance's mission of lowering barriers to innovation in life sciences R&D. The proposal itself will remain confidential.

The proposal must be a PDF document of no more than 5 (five) pages at a readable font size. It must cover the following points:

1. Plan Description: Outline the product or service and how it is planned to be delivered and the anticipated impact it will have on innovation in life science research and development;

2. Execution: Explain how you plan to develop your product or service. Please include information on required materials or resources, potential vendors, any regulatory barriers, and any environmental requirements or outputs to consider.

3. Commercialization: Explain how you plan to market and sell your product or service. Explain how your product or service is different from others in the marketplace and how you can demonstrate a demand for your product or service.

4. Qualifications: Explain the experience of your team and why your team is qualified to execute the Plan and lead a successful commercialization. Include your team’s commitment, what expertise you have or lack, and what your team has built or produced previously.

Contestants may include confidential information in the uploaded file.

Guidelines for Entrants

Judging Criteria

Finalist selection

For selection of the (up to) five finalists

Judges will rate the quality of all Submissions using the following five (5) equally weighted criteria:

(i) Novelty of the Plan (including originality and creativity and whether the product or service is substantially different from current market offerings)

(ii) Quality of the Plan (including the depth and quality of analysis and market research illustrated in the Plan and whether it includes an appropriate level of technical detail)

(iii) Potential impact (including feasibility of production, material and production costs, and potential impact on the market if successful)

(iv) Potential to benefit Pistoia's members (including how the idea is relevant to the Pistoia's mission statement)

(v) Quality of the Team (including prior successes and experience of team members and capacity of the team to execute and bring the Plan to fruition)

Tie Breaker: The opportunity shows demonstrable potential to transform R&D for life sciences.

Final Prizes:

There are two prizes:

  1. The Grand Prize: Scored by a set of judges
  2. Audience vote: we provide limited guidance to the audience, so their votes are based on their individual preference for your pitch and proposal
Grand Prize judging criteria

This may change as we get closer to the event - we will keep the finalists updated)

(i) Problem and market need. The pitch was compelling, easy to understand, and focused around a clearly articulated problem and market need and it’s relevance to the Pistoia Mini startup challenge

(ii) Potential to benefit Pistoia Alliance members (including how the idea is relevant to the Pistoia Alliance’s mission statement)

(iii) The team has developed a truly innovative and defensible solution to an existing or emerging problem

(iv) Potential impact (including feasibility of production, material and production costs, and potential impact on the market if successful)

(v) The offering scales across geography, customer segments, distribution channels, and the scope of the value proposition

Tie Breaker: The opportunity shows demonstrable potential to transform R&D for life sciences.

 Judges feedback from previous competitions:

I've highlighted some of the quotes from our judges that suggested where entrants submissions could have been improved.

It's worth bearing in mind that these judges are from the life sciences industry.

"Demonstrate competence in plan and it's execution":

The proposal has a good Story.... I would like to see some more details on the plan how to spend the potential budget.

Plan addresses an area that needs attention and is well thought out and backed by a reasonable team. Market size is questionable though.

The plan is focused on a large, complex problem area. However, the plan is very sketchy and high level on the true business benefits and impact to end users and industry, with most of the text talking about high level technology approaches

The concept and business plan need significant development in order to be considered further. Too limited information related to the technology, execution and commercialization. Very vague on all points.

This is an interesting idea. I do miss a financial plan

"Clearly articulate your business model":

The commercialization of the business needs some additional work and the team will likely need more assets in order to properly develop the business into a viable


Like the idea and think it that has a lot of future potential. The technical aspects seem great but the business side of things needs more details to support as a solid plan.

Not clear on what the proposal is doing. There is some communication of drug and a phone and I can't figure out the rest of the model. I can see potential for how I wouldread ideas into it, but those ideas are not clear from the proposal.

"Show why you're different":

I like the idea of bringing information to the forefront with software / algorithms. I wonder what is the key differentiation of the software and why would not someone else be able to produce similar software?

"Unsure as to the uniqueness of this business versus alternatives already in the market or currently being developed."

Plan seems well thought out but potentially addressing a fairly crowded space with well established incumbents.

"Back up your claim in the plan:"

As the main differentiator between you and the existing Solutions is usability, I would suggest to explicitly plan for usability Engineering and testing

Validate numbers and Quotes:

In this statement; Estimates of over $298 billion is spent to deal with adherence in the US alone - do you have a reference for this?


This year's themes in detail:

President's Challenge 2019:

We are looking to the startup community to bring their innovative solutions to the attention of our industry members through the 5th President’s Series Startup Challenge.

Entries are welcomed from startups who are transforming life-science and healthcare R&D through:

  • Informatics based solutions
  • Digital health focused offerings
  • Emerging technologies or science

Will your startup disrupt our industry?

Useful Information - Links

Competition overview

Entry site