Spark the Fire — Pitch Competition and Logistics Information Announced

June 17, 2016
For Immediate Release

The Spark the Fire pitch competition will take place during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit Plus (GES+): Emerging Youth and Women Entrepreneurs Day at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, at Stanford University, on June 22. 36 entrepreneurs from around the world will compete for a chance to win cash – up to US $30,000 – and additional in-kind prizes.

Organized by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Spark the Fire is designed to help emerging entrepreneurs from around the world seek investment, as well as start and scale their venture. During GES+, the startup founders will have a series of afternoon pitch sessions with leading entrepreneurs and investors.

"These finalists represent some of the most promising new startups emerging around the world," said Jonathan Ortmans, chair of the Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition and president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. "Competitions like this help us find talented founder teams that can positively impact their communities, countries and even the whole world." 

The top 36 semi-finalist startups were chosen from more than 80 applications from youth and women entrepreneurs. They represent different industries including agriculture, social impact, technology/health, products/services, and food and beverage services and entertainment. There will be five expert judges in each industry for the semi-final round.

The six finalists, one from each industry, will be selected to compete in the final round. The panel of judges includes representatives from Dell, Google, Microsoft, Omidyar Network, and the World Bank Group.

Judges for the final round include:

  • Elizabeth Gore, Dell Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Natalie Villalobos, Google
  • Lisa Nelson, Microsoft
  • Rob Veres, Omidyar Network
  • Ganesh Rasagam, World Bank Group

Top prizes include:

  • Spark the Fire Champion Winner – $30,000 presented by the World Bank Group
  • Spark the Fire Catalyst Winner – $20,000 presented by Omidyar Network
  • Spark the Fire Startup Winner – $15,000 presented by Microsoft

The three winners will also receive a selection of Dell products, a special Shinola watch and invaluable mentorship hours with expert entrepreneurs. Airbnb will also be awarding the six finalists with vouchers to help the entrepreneurs make the best of their business travel.

The Spark the Fire pitch competition is part of the United States and the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s commitment to promote entrepreneurship as a way to build secure, economically prosperous communities around the world, and create one global entrepreneurial ecosystem. The competition highlights the creative ability and innovative drive of youth and women entrepreneurs, and provides an elevated platform for them to share their ideas.

Event Background: President Barack Obama will host the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University, June 22-24, 2016. GES is a reflection of the U.S. government’s commitment to utilize entrepreneurship as a foundational tool to ensure more communities around the world are economically prosperous, secure and globally connected. The 2016 GES is the seventh annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials. 

GES+ on June 22 highlights some of the most promising youth and women entrepreneurs from around the world. GES+ provides special opportunities to a select group of entrepreneurs to take part in focused skills trainings, meet with mentors and industry experts, and network among peers.


Time: The opening plenary session will begin at approximately 8:00 AM Pacific Time, lasting until 10:00 AM.  The ignite talks and final pitch competition will begin at approximately 4:00 PM Pacific Time, lasting until 6:00 PM. The full GES+ agenda is viewable at

Coverage: Members of the media bearing heavy equipment interested in covering the ignite talks and final pitch competition should preset in CEMEX Auditorium at 3:30 PM on Wednesday, June 22.

Accreditation: All press who plan to attend the Summit must have applied for a GES media credential.  The accreditation request period has now closed.

Contact Information: For additional information or logistical inquiries, please contact the GES Media Team at

Note:  Other media opportunities will be available throughout the day on Wednesday June 22.  Additional media advisories will be forthcoming, and posted throughout the Press Filing Center.