Blog Series: Competition Types - Part III of IV

Reviewr|Reviewr|July 1, 2015

Welcome back! If you haven’t read any other parts in the series, I’d recommend starting with part one. When planning a business or innovation competitions, it’s always a good idea to understand the many different elements available, learning to assemble them in the way that best fits your goals.

In part two, we discussed higher involvement events, the business model competition and the classic business plan competition, both centered on more focused business development. The contemporary business model competition, centered around the business model canvas, is generally more accessible to multi-disciplinary entrepreneurs, and is more flexible in its application. The business plan competition is an old standard that still proves incredibly valuable to those looking to build an in depth look into the business side of launching a new idea.

Changing focus a little, the third blog in this series focuses on competition types that can be applied outside of the business context. A few ideas are an innovation competition, a case competition, and a hack-a-thon.

Innovation Competition

Similar to a business idea competition, but focused on innovation. Generally provides an area of focus for the innovation, such as technology in healthcare. Can be very specific and looking to solve a problem. Engages applicants of alternate disciplines and can create teams with diverse skill sets.

  • Brings together applicants of different disciplines
  • Industry specific
  • Builds internal or external innovation
  • Easy to connect to local or national businesses

Innovation competitions are another one of my favorites because of their ability to be specifically applied. They are perfect for a group looking to promote innovation in a specific industry such as healthcare or information technology (e.g. a competition centered around innovation in app design, interior design, information technology, pharmaceuticals, etc…).

That being said, they are easily applied in a more broad manner, soliciting innovation in general. One of the more appealing parts of innovation competitions is their ability to help organizations connect to local or national businesses, specifically as sponsors. They can be pitched as a way of recruiting top talent or sourcing innovation.

Case Competition

Solve a problem for the local community with a case competition. A local businesses or organization suggests a problem they are facing to be solved by the competition applicants.

  • Easy to find sponsorship and prizes
  • Creates network of community members
  • Engages local businesses
  • Good for business recruiting

Equally as good at involving local or national businesses is the case competition. The difference between case competitions and innovation competitions is the former focuses on solving a problem through the solutions presented by the applicants.

An example would be an organization partnering with a local technology firm that’s looking to build a platform that connects their business to a new user market. But the application of case competitions is vast. Any problem can be presented as a case competition.


Invite applicants to code or hack their way to victory. Many organizations looking to support technology industries or to find tech-related solutions may host an overnight or full day hack-a-thon, challenging groups of applicants to code a unique or innovative program or platform in a given period of time. In many cases, applicants of many disciplines are invited to create teams and develop both a product and marketing plan.

  • Industry-specific competition
  • Versatile application
  • Quick competition timeline
  • Supports technology innovation and team building

Hack-a-Thons are the most specific of the three competition types, yet they often including elements from the other two. They often invite applicants to a 24 hour to several day event where applicants form teams with other applicants (or come with a team) to code a solution to a problem. An example would be a major CRM system inviting applicants to a hack-a-thon focused on developing third party add-ons for their system. This is a great event for an organization that focuses on technology or is looking to partner with a major technology company.

Looking for more competition ideas?

Tune in next time! Or talk with our team now.