Mel Woodward Cup

The Mel Woodward Cup is an exciting startup competition organized by the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE) and generously supported by members of the business community.

The primary objective of this competition is to help accelerate the most innovative and high potential student-led startups at Memorial University. Annually, two student teams respectively win $25,000 and $15,000 of leverageable funding and additional prizes from in-kind partners.

This competition has been built on the memory of Dr. Mel Woodward, an entrepreneur who started his journey on a dream and a truck. Read more about Dr. Woodward HERE

The Details


1. The applicant is a Memorial student or the team is at least made of 50% Memorial students co-founders from any of Memorial University’s schools and faculties. Students from the College of the North Atlantic and other non-students are eligible to be part of a competing team if they otherwise adhere to the eligibility criteria, and the team they are on is both led by and comprised mainly of Memorial students co-founders (the presenter will need to be a Memorial student co-founder). If the startup is under an incorporated business (which is not required for this competition), Memorial students need to own at least 50% of the company.

2. The startup needs to have less than 10 employees (including part-time employees).

3. The applicant(s) must intend to create the start-up in Newfoundland and Labrador. If the startup is incorporated, it needs to be registered in Newfoundland and Labrador.

While these eligibility criteria provide general parameters, eligibility will ultimately be determined at the sole discretion of the MCE.

Competition Criteria

All applications will be judged on the following aspects:

1. The entrepreneur/team (motivation/drive, coachability, skills and strong commitment to go full-time).

2. The idea (market validation, actively engaged potential customers, market size and prototype).

3. The execution plan (milestones and need for funding).

Please note the following:

● In lieu of a prototype, service-based startups will be expected to create a visual on their customers’ experience with the service and on the corresponding value-added.

● Applicants must be committed to their idea and their involvement in it. This competition is for those who are entirely serious about launching their own businesses.

Timeline (Winter 2021)

Applications open - December 18, 2020

Applications close - March 1 @ 6 p.m.

Top eight interviews - March 9

Top five finalists announced - March 12

2021 MWC Finals - March 25



1. What are the requirements to be considered a “Memorial Student”?

2. What types of ideas are you looking for?

3. I’m not sure where to start with my idea. Can someone help me?

4. Do I need to submit a pitch with the application?

5. What are some of the in-kind prizes that one may be able to win?

6. Do I need to be a part of a team to win?

7. What are some keys to success?

8. I was one of the winners/finalists for one of the previous Mel Woodward Cups. Can I participate again in this year’s cup?

9. How is the funding given out? Do we need to describe how we intend to spend said funding?


1. To be considered as a Memorial student, you will normally need to meet one of the following three criteria:

● Be registered as a graduate student and have completed a minimum of three credit hours (one course) in one of the prior two semesters or the current semester;

● Be registered as an undergraduate student and have completed a minimum of 18 credit hours (six courses) over the past two years with at least three credit hours (one course) in one of the prior two semesters or the current semester;

● OR be enrolled as a learner in a program at the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial.

Please note: Recent graduates must have completed at least three credit hours (one course) subsequent to graduation to meet these criteria.


2. We are looking for ideas that have an element of innovation, compared to what current competitors are offering customers. These ideas must also have the potential to reach customers outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. Technology- and non-technology-based ideas are encouraged. The startup should be at the stage of technical and/or market validation.


3. Absolutely! We here at the MCE have a multitude of programs that can help you begin working on your idea (or even work with you to come up with an idea)! We have two ways in which we can help:

Option 1: Book a meeting with our in-house entrepreneur, Jason Trask, HERE.

Option 2: Participate in our workshops where you can learn foundational skills, which can be found HERE.


4. Yes, you have the option of submitting either an audio or a video pitch of your business. We’re not looking for a professional pitch video, we’re just looking for something that showcases your startup idea and how winning the MWC would help propel you forward. Video/audio recorded on a laptop or mobile device is perfectly fine. Now, if you make it to the finals, that is when we expect you to bring their pitch video A-game!


5. These prizes usually vary. In the past, some of the prizes have included legal and marketing support and access to business-related training in order to help a student startup grow even further.


6. Not at all. Participants may compete as individuals if they so desire. We do, however, encourage you to create teams with a variety of complementary skill sets and strengths. If you need assistance in forming a team, you can use the start-up guide we provide to help.


7. Be confident in your own idea. Even if you think your idea has nowhere to go, you should attempt to revise and make changes to it and keep with it for as long as you can. Secondly, utilize the resources we have here at the MCE. We provide a multitude of services that can help assist you at all stages of your business idea. We encourage you to book a meeting with our in-house entrepreneur HERE. Finally, keep working on your idea. This isn’t something you can simply complete within an hour, rather something that may take days or even weeks to fully realize and complete. Be prepared to invest some time in your idea and also use the prior two tips in order to realize the full potential of your idea and win the Ignite Fund!


8. Former winners of the Mel Woodward Cup ($10,000 awards and above) can be part of a team if the idea is different than the one they were previously awarded funding for and if she/he is not the lead presenter.

Former Mel Woodward Cup finalists can apply with the same idea if they did not secure one of the winning grants ($10,000 awards and above) in a precedent Mel Woodward Cup competition.


9. The funding will be awarded by the MCE in one of the following ways:

Individuals: funding will be awarded directly to that person.

Teams: Winning team(s) must provide account information of a shared, personal bank account to which the funding will be wired. If a team is selected as a winner, it is required that an agreement is created within the team to determine the use of the funding in furthering the objectives of the startup.

Teams need to provide and sign a document detailing how they commit to spending the funding. All the funding needs to be put into the startup. Also, winners are required to report back a year after the competition.


Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000