Innovation Challenge

Make Small Business Happen at GCC!

Pitch your idea at the Innovation Challenge and you could win cash prizes.

The Innovation Challenge pitching competition is open to all Glendale Community College students with ideas on products and services that solve a problem or make a difference in people’s lives. Both for-profit and not-for-profit ideas are welcome!

Thanks to our prize sponsor, Credit Union West, we can award $5,000 to the top three winners ($2,500-1st place, $1,500-2nd place and $1,000-3rd place). Scroll down to watch the finalists’ pitch presentations from 2022 and previous years.

Credit Union West


Enroll to Participate in the Innovation Challenge 2023

To enter the pre-selection phase, enroll in the Innovation Challenge Canvas course and submit a 5-minute pitch video by January 31, 2023, at 5 p.m. Five finalists will be selected to pitch their ideas live in front of judges.

Enter the Competition


Innovation Challenge Workshop

RSVP for the Innovation Challenge Workshop on January 27, 2023, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the GCC Main Campus, Student Union (SU), room 104. You will have a chance to get feedback on your idea from mentors and fellow students. We will have presentations from successful entrepreneurs and speakers on how to manage money when you are starting a small business. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Entrepreneur Talk Series Flyer

RSVP Today


Attend the Competition

The final competition will be held on February 16, 2023, from 3 - 5 p.m. Register to attend and support the five finalists! Three winners will be selected. The event is open to all students and the community. Innovation Challenge 2023 Flyer

Register to Attend the Competition


Get help for your idea and pitch!

Don't wait. Contact the faculty members listed in the Innovation Challenge Canvas course to work on developing your idea.

Innovation Challenge previous winners collage


Get more information

For any questions regarding the Innovation Challenge, the Big Pitch, other funding and entrepreneurship programs or small business courses, contact Dr. Gabriela Cojanu, GCC Business Faculty and Innovation Challenge Founder:

Innovation Challenge 2022

This year's finalists Carson Roubison, Tia Taylor, Megan Bonno, Adam Murphy and Sophia Acosta pitched their ideas in front of four industry judges for cash prizes at the GCC Innovation Challenge, held on February 17.

Thanks to Credit Union West, a long-standing partner and supporter of this event, the top three winners were awarded $5,000 in cash prizes. - $2,500, Carson Roubison, 2nd place - $1,500 and Megan Bonno, 3rd place - $1,000.

Previous years

Sophia Acosta, 1st place winner at the Innovation Challenge 2022

Sophia Acosta, 1st Place Winner

Sophia won $2,500 for her pitch for a financial app idea, “Finance Friend.” The app is geared towards high school and college students as an educational resource and money management tool to learn good money habits and strategies and limit higher education debt.

Carson Roubison, 2nd place winner at the Innovation Challenge 2022

Carson Roubison, 2nd Place Winner

Carson won $1,500 for his non-profit idea called “Kindness Through Your Lens,” which will give elementary school children a creative outlet as storytelling through photography.

Megan Bonno, 3rd place winner at the Innovation Challenge 2022

Megan Bonno, 3rd Place Winner

Megan has already started her business, Designs from Threads, which is an embroidery shop specializing in uniforms and custom designs for businesses and customers. She is a minority-owned business whose mission is to offer people with autism a great place to work as well as be an advocate for equal pay for people with disabilities.

Innovation Challenge2021 Awards Winners group photo

Innovation Challenge 2021

This year's finalists Payton Jergensen, Anthony Fakhoury, Erik Lujan, Pedro Perez and Preston Miller pitched their ideas in front of 3 industry judges for cash prizes on February 18.  Thanks to Credit Union West, our prize sponsor, the top three winners were awarded $5,000 in cash prizes.  Erik Lujan, 1st place - $2,500, Preston Miller, 2nd place - $1,500 and Pedro Perez, 3rd place - $1,000. 

In addition to a cash prize, the 1st place winner, Erik Lujan, represented Glendale Community College at the Maricopa Big Pitch Competition, a student pitching competition across all 10 colleges. This year’s Big Pitch competition took place on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The winner received over $20,000 in cash and in-kind services, plus one year of coaching from the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) to help them launch their business idea.

2021 Innovation Challenge Winners & Finalists Testimonials

Here is what the winners and finalists had to say about competing in Innovation Challenge 2021.

Looking for more funding options?

Fund or scale your small business start-up with this grant. Once a semester, students who are actively working on starting their business or side hustle can apply for the Make Business Happen at GCC grant. The grant is awarded to one or more students a semester who demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit and financial viability for their idea.


Apply for the grant