The Competition

The AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup is a pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups.

The Hardware Cup will be touring 6 US regions, with events in: Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC,  Chicago, and Austin. Check our Competitions page for more details.

At least 5 other countries will also participate, including Japan, South Korea, Israel, and others to be announced. Check out our International Competitions page for more details.


To be eligible, you must be an early-stage hardware startup with at least one physical product component.

Don’t let the term hardware scare you off! Physical products include but are not limited to: manufactured products, IoT/connected devices, health/medical, consumer products, consumer electronics, food, fashion, robotics, etc.

For a full list of last year’s semi-finalists and finalists, click here.

You can only apply to one region; multiple applications are not permitted.

The Format

6 teams will be selected in each US region to give a 4-minute pitch followed by about 4 minutes of Q&A with the panel of judges made up of local VCs and investors.

At the same time, approximately 5 other countries will hold their own Hardware Cup competition with a similar format.

Each US regional competition and international competition will send finalist companies to the International Finals events in Pittsburgh in April 2018. Two US finalists and one finalist from each international competition will compete on the main stage for the grand prize of $50,000, but all finalists will have a chance to pitch to the audience and have a demo table at the event. Finalists will also be invited to Investor Day, where they’ll have the chance to meet one-on-one with top hardware investors from around the country.


Startbot VC will award a $50,000 convertible-debt investment to the Hardware Cup Grand Prize Winner. 2nd and 3rd prize International Finalists will each receive cash prizes.

Winning teams from each US region will get $3000 cash and other prizes. All US semi-finalists will receive a one-year license for SOLIDWORKS software.

New this year! Philips Health Impact Award: Philips Healthcare is offering a special $5000 prize for products and/or technologies that help people sleep, breathe, and perform better. Improving sleep or respiration does not need to be the only, or the primary, application of the product or technology to qualify. More details on the Hardware Cup application.

2018 Hardware Cup Powered By

Questions? Email Leah Simoncelli at