The Accelerator stage of X Challenge: 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 is an annual programme for AUT students. It is made up of two separate competitions, The Idea and The Accelerator. You can enter either one of both, as an individual or in a team.

Entrants are provided with an opportunity, and the necessary guidance, to develop their idea for an exciting new project, start-up, or way to solve a problem. Workshops, expert speakers and 1:1 check-ins support students as they explore how their idea could work in the real world and compete for the $30,000 cash prize pool.

X Challenge is open to all current AUT students across all faculties and campuses. A team can include non AUT student members too if the main contact is a currently enrolled 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 and The Accelerator. You can enter either one of both, as an individual or in a team.

The Idea winners have been announced and now we are on to The Accelerator.

For The Accelerator you will tell our judges all about your idea for an exciting new project, start-up, or way to solve a problem. You do this by submitting a pitch deck. A beautifully laid out set of slides which covers everything from what the problem is you are solving and who experiences it, to unveiling your brilliant solution and introducing the skilled team behind the idea.

Don’t panic if you have questions. From the 24 May through to the submission deadline of 16 August, we will guide you to assemble your pitch deck with weekly workshops, guest experts and 1:1 check in’s. We kick off with an event called “What’s a Pitch Deck?” so we really do cover everything you need to know!

From The Accelerator entries, 8 Finalists are selected to take part in a Dragons’ Den style pitch event on 18 November, where $20K in cash plus prizes are up for grabs.

Every AUT student is welcome, and encouraged to get involved! Even if you didn’t enter The Idea you can enter The Accelerator as they are separate competitions. If you entered The Idea but were not a winner you can still take part in The Accelerator and have a great chance of being a finalist as the programme will help you develop, make improvements and pivot your idea if you need to.

Please submit your pitch deck by 11:59pm on Monday 16th August. Your submission should be saved as a PDF and emailed to

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, you are also welcome to be part of as many teams as you can manage.

The X Challenge team will provide a range of support including workshops, guest experts and 1:1 check in’s. We can also direct you to a curated library of helpful resources and an online community of fellow X Challengers!

Find out more

There is a total cash prize pool of $20,000 as well as a selection of awesome prizes up for grabs.

Cash prizes are as follows:

  • Overall winner: $10,000
  • Overall runner-up: $5,000
  • Third place: $2,500
  • Plus a $2,500 discretionary judges prize

How can I use my prize money?

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.

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.

Find out how to register for the Accelerator and how we can support you with your submission.

How to enter

The Final Pitch 2021 will be held on Thursday 18 November. At least one member of each finalist team will need to present the idea to the judges. We will help you prepare with professional pitch coaching for our 8 finalist teams.

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.

Finalists of The Accelerator will be announced on 30 August. Each finalist will be paired with a mentor who will help them prepare for the final pitch event which will be held on 18 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.

Student FAQs


“I’ve run start-ups before, but X Challenge was a game changer. It allowed me to meet supportive mentors as well as other experts who believed in my idea and helped me fine-tune my approach.”
Mohd Akhtaar - Mindful Muslim, 2020 Supreme Winner

"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

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