Startup Competition Guide


Startup Competitions with largest cash prize in AI and robotics

They include GPU Technology Conference, Vision Tank and General AI Challenge

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
November 22, 2017
Short URL:

If you're a startup seeking opportunities to get funded, educated or connected, startup competitions are a great resource.

Vator has been holding its own competitions, using VatorX, to find and filter for the best startups. We've had some very successful and notable winners in the past that have gone on to raise big funding rounds including Thumbtack, DogVacay, Pokitdok, Grovo, Udemy and Apartment List, to name a few.

Anyone can list their program as VatorX is one of the most comprehensive listing guides to startup competitions, challenges, accelerators and programs. Click here to list your program!

As part of our weekly series, we'll look at top competitions with big cash prizes, as well as competitions that have teed up the most promising startups, to finding popular startup competitions you need to know about. 

Here are some of the startup competitions that have the largest cash prize in AI and robotics:


Description: "The 4th industrial revolution is going to be disruptive and become mainstream because courageous startups bring their ideas to market. These innovations span industries, use cases, and applications. From building a wearable device that understands the visual world for the blind, to weather forecasting accurate to the minute, these small and agile teams are breaking new ground every day.

Come meet the luminaries of the deep learning startup community, the NVIDIA Inception Program. Attend our award presentations and shake some hands in the exhibition hall at our Startup Square. The brightest minds in AI startups are here at GTC."

Prize: The winner in each category collects $375,000; the runner-up gets $125,000.

Previous winners: Horus Technology, Sadako Technologies


Description: "Google Cloud’s Machine Learning Startup Competition brings together the most promising young startups implementing machine learning."

Prize: $500k investment opportunity from top VCs, $1 million in GCP credit, technical support from Google engineers. 

All non-winning finalists receive $200,000  in GCP credit plus 10 G Suite licenses for 12 months.

Previous winners: PicnicHealth, LiftIgniter, Brainspec


Description: "Women Who Tech is on a mission to fund women-led startups. Through our Women Startup Challenges, which have been held in Washington, D.C. at 1776, New York at Microsoft and Google, and San Francisco at LinkedIn, we have brought together the best early-stage, women-led startups using tech to rapidly scale and innovate. What’s next?"

Prize: Top prize is $50,000, and $15,000 in legal services from Paul Hastings. Second place winners hget $10,000 in legal services and three hours in consulting from 1843 Capital. Third place gets $10,000 in legal services.

Previous winners: Didimo, Spirit AI, Addicaid


Description: "The Vision Tank is the Embedded Vision Summit’s exciting start-up competition, in which five computer vision start-up companies present their innovations to a panel of investors and industry experts!"

Prize: $5,000 grand prize

Previous winners: Lucid VR


AWS Chatbot Challenge

Description: "The AWS Chatbot Challenge is your opportunity to build a unique chatbot that helps solves a problem or adds value for prospective users. The AWS Chatbot Challenge is brought to you by Amazon Web Services in partnership with Slack."


  • First Prize

$5,000 USD

$2,500 AWS Credits

Two (2) tickets to AWS re:Invent

30 minute virtual meeting with the Amazon Lex team

Winning submission featured on the AWS AI blog

Cool swag

  • Second Prize

$3,000 USD

$1,500 AWS Credits

One (1) ticket to AWS re:Invent

30 minute virtual meeting with the Amazon Lex team

Winning submission featured on the AWS AI blog

Cool swag

  • Third Prize

$2,000 USD

$1,000 AWS Credits

30 minute virtual meeting with the Amazon Lex team

Winning submission featured on the AWS AI blog

Cool swag

Previous winners: BuildFax Counts, Hubsy, PFMBot, ADP Payroll Innovation Bot



Description: "

The working AI solutions available today constitute the so-called narrow AI landscape, meaning that they have been designed, trained, and optimized by human engineers to achieve a single, specific task. Although such algorithms sometimes outperform humans in their established skillset, they are not able to extend their capabilities to new domains. This limits their reusability, increases the amount of data required to train them, and leaves them lacking generality and unable to develop common sense.

In contrast, general AI will be capable of overcoming these limitations. Thanks to a human-level skillset, general AI will be able to learn and come up with creative solutions for a range of multi-domain tasks.

We see general AI as the ultimate leverage in solving humanity’s direst problems and becoming better humans."

Prize: $5 million in total cash prizes

Previous winners: None yet


Description: "AI Challenger's mission is to serve AI talents and help them grow, so to create an open and sustainable academic and industry ecosystem!"

Prize: $300,000

Previous winners: None yet


Description: "Now in its 17th year, Battlecode is MIT's longest running programming competition. It features a unique challenge that combines battle strategy, software engineering and artificial intelligence. In short, the objective is to write the best AI player program for the strategy game Battlecode. Anyone can participate, as long as you know how to program."

Prize: $50,000 in prizes. Top teams in both the main tournament and the Newbie Tournament will earn prizes.

Previous winners: Arbitrary Graph Restoration Fund, Bruteforcer, Waterloo Omega Ruby


Featured Stories


Other episodes of this series

Accelerators targeting retail technology...


Startup Competition Guide

by Steven Loeb
They include METRO Accelerator for Retail, Techstars Retail and RetailXelerator

Startup competitions seeking retail...


Startup Competition Guide

by Steven Loeb
They include Retail Innovation Pitch Event and Retail Disrupt Startup Competition

Startup competitions seeking gaming companies


Startup Competition Guide

by Steven Loeb
They include IT’S A START Pitch Competition, SiGMA Pitch and Gaming StartUp Challenge

Accelerators targeting addiction solutions


Startup Competition Guide

by Steven Loeb
They include Opioid Safety Accelerator Program and Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program

Accelerators targeting wellness companies


Startup Competition Guide

by Steven Loeb
They include The Technogym Wellness Accelerator and SEG Health and Wellness Accelerator