The GIST Tech-I Competition is an annual competition for science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies worldwide. Aspiring innovators submit their ideas and startups online which are then reviewed by experts and voted on by the global voting public in order to determine the finalists. New this year, U.S. Department of State is inviting all former GIST Tech-I finalists to participate in the program to recruit and mentor the next generation of science and tech entrepreneurs.
Since 2011, innovators from around the globe have showcased their science and technology ventures to the world through GIST Tech-I Competitions. Thousands of expert reviews have taken place and the online voting public has cast over 1 million votes in support of these talented young innovators.
The GIST initiative is led by the U.S. Department of State, and the Tech-I competition is implemented by AAAS.
Applications for Tech-I 2018 are now being accepted.
The following frequently asked questions have been compiled to assist individuals preparing their application for the competition. For a full list of rules and eligibility requirements, please see the competition’s program announcement.
If you have a question and you cannot find it listed here, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist and offer advice. We may even add your question to the library for others to learn from as well.
- GIST Tech-I Basics
- Competition Eligibility
- Idea Stage vs. Startup Stage
- Focus of the Application
- Types of Ideas and Startups Considered
GIST Tech-I Basics
WHAT IS GIST TECH-I?
GIST Tech-I is an annual competition for science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies around the world. Aspiring innovators pitch their Ideas or startups online finalists receive an all-expense paid trip to GIST Tech-I Finals to showcase their ventures and receive intensive training. GIST Tech-I winners can win capital seed prizes
HOW DOES THE GIST TECH-I COMPETITION WORK?
- Eligible entrepreneurs submit an online application, which includes a 90-second pitch video, for their Idea or Startup.
- A review is conducted of the applications and a select number of applicants are chosen as semi-finalists.
- Semifinalists put their networking and marketing skills to the test in an online public voting round.
- Voting results help determine which semi-finalists will go on to the finals.
- Finalists travel all-expenses paid to the GIST Tech-I Finals where they receive in-person training and mentorship, network with entrepreneurs and investors, and pitch their Idea or Startup for the chance to bring home seed capital prizes.
IS GIST TECH-I FOR ME?
If you are aged between 18-40 years old on the application deadline, are from a GIST-eligible emerging economy, and have a great science or technology Idea or Startup, then the answer is YES! If you have an Idea or Startup but are looking for funding or mentoring assistance to take your project to the next stage, then the answer is YES! If you enjoy participating in exciting competitions and networking with peers, then the answer is YES!
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PAST GIST TECH-I COMPETITIONS?
Visit our News and Past Winners page for information on GIST Tech-I alumni.
WHEN IS THE APPLICATION DEADLINE?
The application deadline for the 2018 competition is December 28, 2017.
The 2018 competition’s full eligibility criteria can be found in the Program Announcement.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
Individuals have to meet ALL of the following eligibility:
- The applicant must be aged 18-40 years old at on the day of the application deadline.
- The applicant must be a citizen of at least one of the 136 GIST-eligible emerging economies .
- The applicant must not hold dual-citizenship or permanent resident status in a non-GIST economy.
- The applicant must not submit more than one application per GIST Tech-I competition year.
- The applicant must not be a previous GIST Tech-I finalist who traveled to and competed in the GIST Tech-I Finals.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY IDEA OR STARTUP IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE COMPETITION?
In addition to meeting the applicant age and citizenship requirements above, Ideas and Startups that met ALL of the following eligibility requirements:
- The application must be the original work of the Idea or Startup applicant.
- The Idea or Startup must be for-profit. Applications from non-profit ventures or NGOs will not be reviewed.
- The Idea or Startup must be developing an innovative science or technology solution with market potential in a GIST-eligible economy.
- The Startup must be less than three years old.
- The Idea or Startup must be, at least in part based, in a GIST-eligible economy.
- The Idea or Startup must be developing or selling products and services that use its own innovations in science and technology. Applications from organizations that buy and resell technologies and other goods will not be reviewed.
- The Idea or Startup must not submit more than one application per GIST Tech-I competition year.
I CURRENTLY LIVE IN AN ELIGIBLE EMERGING ECONOMY, BUT I AM A CITIZEN OF AN ECONOMY WHICH IS NOT ON THE GIST LIST. CAN I APPLY?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. GIST Tech-I is only open to all those who are citizens of a GIST-eligible emerging economy. If your startup team includes someone who does meet the eligibility requirements, he or she could submit the application and act as the team’s representative instead.
I CURRENTLY LIVE OR STUDY IN AN INELIGIBLE ECONOMY (E.G., U.S.A.), BUT I AM A CITIZEN OF AN EMERGING ECONOMY ON THE GIST LIST. CAN I APPLY?
As long as you are not also a dual-citizen or permanent resident of a non-GIST eligible economy, yes. If you are a citizen of eligible emerging economy AND your business will be focused or based in a GIST-eligibly economy, you are eligible to apply to the GIST Tech-I Competition.
I AM A STUDENT WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE. CAN I PARTICIPATE?
There are no minimum education criteria for qualifications to compete in GIST Tech-I. GIST Tech-I encourages eligible applicants of all educational backgrounds to apply.
CAN THE TEAM BE COMPRISED OF ONLY ONE MEMBER?
Definitely! Some of the greatest innovators and entrepreneurs in the world have achieved their success on their own.
HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN BE ON ONE PROJECT TEAM?
There is no limit to the number of people on a project team. However, all teams must appoint one person to represent the team throughout the entire competition. This person is required to meet all of the eligibility requirements and is the person under whose name your application should be submitted. Your team representative will also be the only person to travel to and pitch your project at the GIST Tech-I finals, should your application advance. If you have any specific questions as to who you should choose to represent your team do not hesitate to email email@example.com for advice.
I HAVE MULTIPLE PROJECTS THAT NEED FUNDING. CAN I SUBMIT MORE THAN ONE BUSINESS PLAN APPLICATION FOR THIS COMPETITION?
No. Each individual/startup is only permitted to submit one application to GIST Tech-I.
WHAT MATERIALS WILL I NEED TO SUBMIT?
The GIST Tech-I application has consisted of a 90-second pitch video, a short summary of the Idea/Startup, and a series of questions that address all of the criteria outlined in the Program Announcement.
All written application materials must be in English, and the pitch video must be in English or with English subtitles provided.
DO I NEED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT MY IDEA WORKS AND THAT IT IS PRACTICAL?
It is not necessary to have a finalized, market-ready product to apply to GIST Tech-I. However, you should be able to demonstrate that your idea is technically feasible and practical, to explain the work and team needed to develop a viable product, and to demonstrate that you have identified and understand your target market.
HOW DO I IDENTIFY MY TARGET MARKET?
Innovation is exciting, but in order to do well in this competition, you need to also show that there is a need for your product and that customers would be willing to buy it. Start by identifying the problem your technology solves and who that problem affects. Why would those people buy your product over alternatives? For whom would your product be affordable? Check out the GIST Tech Connect session on Product Market Fit for tips.
Types of Ideas and Startups Considered
TO WHAT SECTORS/INDUSTRIES IS GIST TECH-I OPEN?
GIST Tech-I is open to Ideas and Startups across science and technology sectors. The important thing is that your business/idea be built around your own scientific or technological innovation. Past applicants have had projects in Agriculture, Energy, Education, Environment, Health, and Information and Communication Technology sectors. If you do not feel your project fits in one of these broad sectors, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for advice, or use the “other” option provided on the application.
CAN PURELY RESEARCH PROJECTS APPLY?
You may apply with a research project provided that the project has a demonstrable commercial potential, your intention is to convert the project into a for-profit company, and you have started to form your business plan. If you are very early on in your research and your product is still very far from being commercialized, unfortunately you are not eligible to apply to the competition.
CAN WE SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR A SERVICE OR DOES IT HAVE TO BE FOR A PRODUCT?
Services are often great innovations. Provided that your service relies on a scientific or technical innovation you developed, we are happy to review your proposal.
DO I HAVE TO PROVIDE A NEW IDEA THAT HAS NEVER BEEN INTRODUCED TO THE MARKET?
You do not need to provide a completely new idea, but you need to show that you are approaching the problem in an innovative way. How can you solve this problem better than your competitors who might have a similar product? What technical or scientific innovation are you bringing to the idea?
DOES MY IDEA/STARTUP NEED TO BE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET, OR CAN I HAVE A PRODUCT OR SERVICE FOCUSED ON MY LOCAL MARKET?
Products and services for the local market are more than encouraged to apply. If you are at the Idea stage, we advise you to focus on developing within your local (“pilot”) market. If you are at a more advanced Startup stage, we would like to see that you have aspirations and a strategy to eventually enter other markets. These do not have to be geographical markets; they can also be new demographic new markets or niches (for example, if your Idea/Startup serves children, maybe you want to eventually expand to serving adults or the elderly). It is important to describe both your current market and potential markets.