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 students or teams respectively win $25,000 and $15,000 of leverageable funding and additional in-kind prizes from partners. All applicants will also receive feedback from judges on their startup idea and be able to share their applications with partners for further opportunities. For the 2022 Mel Woodward Cup, MCE will also award two new titles and cash prizes:

  1. The Fry Family Foundation Entrepreneurship Award for an Early-stage Idea ($2,500)
  2. The Fry Family Foundation Entrepreneurship Award for Women or Non-binary Leadership ($2,500)

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 (single applicant) or the team is at least made of 50% Memorial students co-founders. Students from the College of the North Atlantic and other non-Memorial 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. 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 presenter needs to be a Memorial student co-founder. In the case of a team, the team needs to be also led by a Memorial student co-founder (“CEO” role).

3. The Memorial student applicant(s) must be (all) located in Newfoundland and Labrador.

4. The applicant(s) must intend to create and operate their startup in Newfoundland and Labrador. If the startup is already incorporated (which is not required for this competition), it has to be incorporated in the province.

5. The startup must have less than 10 employees (employees are not required for this competition).

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: the entrepreneur/team, idea and execution plan. More details are provided in the application form.

Timeline (Winter 2022)

Applications open - December 13, 2021

Applications close - March 1 @ 6 p.m.

Top eight interviews (in-person) - March 8

Top five finalists announced - March 11

2022 MWC Finals (in-person) - March 23



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

  • 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. Why having people from diverse genders on your startup team will increase your chance of success?

For so many reasons! Learn more about those reasons here.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are many examples of successful and diverse startup co-founders and/or CEOs: Gina Pecore with Genoa Design, Emily Bland with Sucseed, Dr. Nikitha Kendyala with Nucliq, with Deanne McCarthy with Swiftsure Innovation, etc.

3. What types of ideas are you looking for?

We are looking for ideas that have an element of innovation, compared to what current competitors are offering customers, and that also have the potential to reach customers outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. Technology- and non-technology-based ideas are encouraged. All sectors are welcome (food, hospitality, health, finance, manufacturing, etc.).

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

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

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

Yes, you have the option of submitting either an audio or a video pitch of your business. We are 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.

5. What are the new awards for the 2022 Mel Woodward Cup?

For the 2022 Mel Woodward Cup, we will also offer two new awards:

  • The Fry Family Foundation Entrepreneurship Award for an Early-stage Idea ($2,500) to a non-finalist team who has a promising startup idea and individual/team but needs a little more work to be in a position to win the Mel Woodward Cup.
  • The Fry Family Foundation Entrepreneurship Award for Women or Non-binary Leadership ($2,500) to the most promising idea led by a woman or non-binary student. For a team, a woman or non-binary student co-founder needs to be the CEO and at least 50% of the team needs to be women or non-binary student co-founders. If the startup is under an incorporated business (which is not required for this competition), women or non-binary student co-founders need to own at least 50% of the company.

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

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.

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

Not at all. Participants may compete as individuals if they so desire. We do, however, encourage you to create teams with a variety of gender and complementary skill sets and strengths.

8. What are some keys to success?

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 one of our startup coaches 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!

9. What are the criteria that the judges will use for their evaluation?

All applications will be judged on the following aspects[s]: the entrepreneur/team (50%), idea (40%) and execution plan (10%).

For the “entrepreneurs/team” category, the judges will look at your motivation, your skills and your ability to take feedback. For the “idea” category, the judges will look at the potential of success of your idea and how your service or product will look like. For the “execution plan” category, the judges will look at your next steps and how you will use the funding.

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

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 the former winner 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.

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

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.