What is it?

CitySpark is a business design and doing competition that helps City students and recent alumni to develop a business idea, test it out with potential customers and then make it happen!

Unlike other University business plan competitions, which focus on pitching ideas and persuading a small panel of judges or investors, often with little evidence or no real-world traction behind them, CitySpark is all about finding problems, identifying real gaps in the marketplace and building evidence-based startups right from day one.

Why enter?

CitySpark is designed to help you understand the process of moving from a business idea to a fledgling startup venture and then what you need to do to kickstart this into life.

Key benefits!

  • Find out how to design & build a startup business
  • Receive 1-to-1 mentoring from a business expert
  • Pitch your idea to local entrepreneurs and investors
  • Complete a 1-month internship on your own business idea as part of the CitySpark Summer Accelerator
  • Learn how to prepare a crowdfunding video pitch and run a promotional campaign to secure early-stage funding
  • Develop key enterprise skills to enhance your employability and career prospects
Stage 1 - Find a problem

All great businesses are built on solving problems and meeting human needs. No problem, no business. It’s that simple.

Stage 1 of CitySpark challenges you to identify something that you think is broken and needs fixing. Find a great problem and you’re a big step closer to starting a successful business. Download an entry form and submit it by midnight on Tuesday 24th November to be in with a shout for a cash prize.

We’ll then invite the top 20 entries to a special marketplace event in early December where you will get the chance to pitch your problem to local entrepreneurs, business experts, and alumni who will each vote on their favourite ideas. The overall winner will receive £1000 with two runners-up prizes of £500 and three prizes of £250.




Stage 2 - Develop a solution

Stage 2 of CitySpark challenges you to think of a business solution to the problem you have identified (watch the above video for inspiration) and develop a viable business model by attending four preparation seminars and getting ‘out of the building’ to talk to potential customers. This stage of the competition is open to all students and recent graduates, regardless of whether they took part in Stage 1 or not. 

All participating individuals and teams will be expected complete the Stage 2 Entry Form by 3pm 14th March 2016

The best entries will then be invited to a pitching event on the 22nd of March 2016 where they will get to network and informally pitch their ideas to invited entrepreneurs, business experts, alumni and a group of judges who will then vote for their favourite ideas.

Up to 5 teams will receive a £3,000 cash prize.

The prizes are kindly supported by the City Future Fund. 

Judging criteria

All entries to Stage 2 of CitySpark 2016 will be scored using the following criteria, with 20 marks awarded for each section giving a total score out of 100:

  1. Is there a clearly defined problem?
  2. Is there a clearly articulated, differentiated, deliverable and innovative solution?
  3. Is the market clearly defined, addressable and scalable?
  4. Is there a viable and sustainable business model?
  5. Is the plan backed up by concrete evidence, e.g prototypes, mock-ups, contact with prospective customers and partners?


We have now selected the finalists! Register here to join us in the final and help select one of the winners!

Stage 3 - Build the prototype

The final stage of CitySpark is a 1-month Startup Summer School programme at City University where up to seven teams will get to intern on their own startup and develop a prototype with help and guidance from outside experts. The programme will end with the CitySpark Demo Day when all of the participating teams will get to pitch their work to an invited panel of successful entrepreneurs and professional investors.


Prize fund sponsered by: