The Accelerator stage of X Challenge: FAQs

alert level faqs

Find out exactly what's involved in X Challenge The Accelerator, where you get the chance to develop an idea for a business, cause or project (either individually or as part of a team).

X Challenge gives every AUT student the opportunity and guidance to develop an idea for a business, cause or project. It's a way to gain real and meaningful skills and experience in launching and running a new business with plenty of support along the way. No matter what course you are studying, or which field you plan to enter, we believe everyone has ideas.

X Challenge is open to all current AUT students across all schools and campuses. Teams can include non-students, however one team member must be a current AUT student.

You may enter as an individual or in a team of any size, where at least one team member is a current AUT student. You will need to nominate at least one person to present the final pitch.

X Challenge is an annual programme made up of two separate competitions The Idea (Closed 11 May. See who won) and The Accelerator.

The Accelerator involves putting together a plan outlining your business idea and how it would work in the real world with lots of support from our team. Your plan needs to adhere to the entry requirements which can be downloaded here.

Note: You do not have to have won or even have entered The Idea to enter The Accelerator.

If you entered The Idea, no matter whether you won a prize or not, we encourage you to enter The Accelerator which offers an opportunity to tweak, pivot and flesh out your idea. The majority of ideas will change and evolve through the course of The Accelerator as you dive deeper into your concept.

Eight finalists will be selected from the entries by a panel of expert judges. Finalists will be matched with an industry mentor who will coach the team between September/October to help them prepare for the final pitch night event.

The Accelerator is now closed.

No, The Idea and The Accelerator are independent of each other. If your idea didn't win a prize in The Idea we would still encourage you to take it to The Accelerator as often it just needs a few tweaks or some further detail which can be fleshed out during The Accelerator.

The closing date was Monday, 24 August 2020, 11.59pm.

No, any current AUT student can enter.

Anybody can enter as long as there is a current AUT Student as a core part of the team. The AUT student must be the main team contact.

Yes, however we strongly suggest that you concentrate on one idea due to the level of commitment and time required once you reach the finals.

AUT will supply a range of resources to help you to prepare each section of the business plan you need to submit. We will also hold weekly online Q&A sessions so you can get your questions answered by our team or guest experts.

There are amazing prizes up for grabs. There is a total cash prize pool of $20,000 as well as over $20,000 of in-kind prizes tailored to getting your idea off the ground:

8 finalists will prepare and pitch for the following cash prizes

  • $10,000 Supreme Winner
  • $5,000 Runner-up
  • $2,500 Third place
  • $2,500 Judges prize

No, X Challenge and AUT will not have a benefit share or shareholding in your idea/business.

The information you disclose in your entry and the inherent Intellectual Property (IP) should belong to you or your team and should be the product of your own work. Ensure you have the rights to disclose the Intellectual Property or confidential information of another party before you disclose it.

The final pitch night is a gazetted event. Gazetting opens up a six month window of opportunity to file a New Zealand patent or design application after an idea has been displayed at a gazetted event.

For The Accelerator It's up to you how you choose to spend your prize money but it must be used to further your winning business idea, e.g. marketing, prototyping, research.

If you are selected as one of the 8 finalists, you, or at least one person from your team is required to present on the final pitch night. There will also be a compulsory pitch training session (date TBC) to ensure your pitch is on point for the final event.

Final pitch night

Monday, 16 November 2020, AUT City Campus

The judging panel for The Accelerator will be comprised of entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors. Judges for the pitch night will be announced ahead of the final.

View the judging criteria

Finalists of The Accelerator will be announced 7 September. Each finalist will be paired with a mentor and will be required to check in with them regularly. There will also be 2 compulsory workshops which all finalists must attend, a bootcamp, to help you brush up on all areas of the business plan, and a pitch training session to make sure you are ready to take the stage at the final pitch event on Monday 16 November.

Yes, the X Challenge organising committee reserve the right to disqualify any entry that, in its collective judgement, violates the letter or the spirit of the competition rules and guidelines.


"X Challenge was one of the best learning opportunities I experienced during my six years at AUT. It helped our idea move from a concept, to something tangible with the potential to launch."
Aimee Moss – giveagood, 2019 Runner Up

"X Challenge is such an amazing opportunity to grow your skillset, and ways of thinking and working. It helped us (Flat Essentials) reflect, learn, and adapt, especially as we went through the ideation process."
Finlay Barnett – Flat Essentials, 2019 Finalist

"Being a finalist in the X Challenge has been great for our personal growth and development. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself at university, as it fuels rapid self-learning and makes you stand out to future employer."
Piggyback, 2018 Runner-Up

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Shayna McWhirter

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