Darwazah Startup Accelerate Competition Darwazah Center for Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship​

The Darwazah Startup Accelerate (DSA) competition is organized and sponsored by Samih Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship of the Olayan School of Business. All AUB undergraduate and graduate students are allowed to participate to the competition by submitting a proposal for an innovative product, service, or a business process. The purpose of this competition is to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation among AUB students as well as collaboration between students from different disciplines, to share knowledge and come up with a well-rounded and complete business proposal for a new product or service.

Important Dates & Deadlines

  • April: Final ceremony and distribution of awards 

Darwazah Startup Accelerate 

  • Masterclasses, workshops, and mentorships
  • Business model development: Lean canvas development, Minimum Viable Product development, Market validation
  • Pitch training
  • Ecosystem support
  • $20,000 prize


  • February: Deadline for applications submission
  • February: Announcement of shortlisted applicants
  • February: 1 min pitches session
  • February: Announcement of semi-finalists
  • March: Bootcamp
  • March: Refinement of proposals
  • March: Deadline for refined proposals submission
  • March: Announcement of finalists
  • March: Pitch training for finalists
  • March: Refinement/team interview
  • April: Finalists pitches to jury
  • April: Darwazah Startup Accelerate final ceremony and distribution of awards


  • $20,000 total amount awarded to the winning teams 
    • 2 x $10,000
    • Disbursement is based on substantial evidence of progress towards the launch of startups as per Darwazah Center criteria
  • All members of the finalist teams will be awarded certificates of achievement

How to Register

To register for the competition, one student from each team should submit the online application "Apply " before the mentioned deadline. FAQ- Application example


  • At least one member of the team has to be a current AUB undergraduate or graduate students 
  • There is NO limit or restriction on the number of team members; teams typically range from one to five members 
  • Team members cannot be in more than one team 
  • Previously accelerated/funded startups aren't eligible (unless they received less than $2,000 prizes)

Competition Rounds

The competition will be conducted in three rounds as follows:

  • Online registration and submission of initial proposal
  • Written extended proposal
  • Pitch to jury and closing ceremony (everyone is welcome to attend) 

 Requirements Each Round

Round 1 

  • Registration 
  • Proposal:
    • Business purpose
    • Product/service description
    • Market opportunity
    • Market (size, customer profile, and competition) 
  • Ideation sessions (Optional)
  • 1 minute in-person pitch to jury

Round 2 

  • 1 Day bootcamp
  • Refinement session 
  • Proposal refinement mentoring
Round 3 

  • Pitch training 
  • Pitch to panel of judges 
  • Refinement session 
  • Final team interview
  • Awards ceremony 

Ideation Session 

As part of The Darwazah Startup Accelerate competition, we hold an ideation session for the students/entrepreneurs-to-be. The purpose of the session is to help interested students come up with a new startup idea or enhance an existing one in order for them to apply to the Darwazah Startup Accelerate. They will engage in a creative process in order to generate, filter, and communicate startup ideas.

Creative Process of Startup Ideation: 

  • Brainstorming session 
  • Innovative idea generation 
  • Filter 
  • Communication 
  • Assistance with DSA application 

All applicants are advised to register for this information and ideation session.