Application Process

Collegiate Inventors Competition

Find everything you need to know about applying to and eligibility for competing in the Collegiate Inventors Competition.

The Application Process

The first step in applying to the Collegiate Inventors Competition is filling out our online application form. The application form for the 2018 CIC will be available in the spring. Below is a list of items that the application form will include:

  • Your student information
  • An essay including a brief description or abstract of your invention
  • A letter of recommendation from your faculty advisor
  • A literature/patent search and summary
  • Any relevant supporting or supplemental materials you wish to submit (examples: charts, graphs, CDs or DVDs, slides, samples, etc.)

Patent Information

Great news! You have access to amazing resources from the United States Patent and Trademark Office to help with your application research and understanding of intellectual property information:

Visit the USPTO Office of Innovation Development to learn more about the efforts made by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to assist independent inventors, small business concerns, and university-affiliated inventors.

The Inventors Assistance Center (IAC) provides patent information and services to the public. The IAC is staffed by former Supervisory Patent Examiners and experienced Primary Examiners who answer general questions regarding patent examining policy and procedure.

Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) is a library designated by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to receive and house copies of U.S. patents and patent and trademark materials. These materials are actively disseminated and made freely available to the public. Virtually every state has at least one PTRC, and PTRC staff are available in those locations to provide training to the public on U.S. patent search processes and research tools.

The Patent and Trademark Resource Center offers a helpful “Quick Start” guide for conducting a patent search. Follow the link for the “Seven-Step U.S. Patent Search Strategy.”

Eligibility Information

To be eligible:

  • Your entry must represent the original idea and work of you and/or your team
  • Teams cannot have more than four students (mentorship from a university advisor does not count as a team member)
  • Individual entrants must be enrolled as full-time students in any U.S. college or university for at least part of the 12-month period prior to the submission deadline; for team entries, at least one member must meet the full-time requirement, and all remaining team members must be enrolled at least part-time at some point during the 12-month period prior to the submission deadline
  • Your entry must contain evidence that the invention has been reduced to practice
  • Your entry must include proof that your invention is capable of being reproduced
  • Your entry must be submitted in English

Tips to Prepare a Compelling Entry

  • Clearly articulate what your invention is and why it is unique. The judges are interested in learning exactly how you are contributing to the ideas and technology in your field.
  • Be concise but make sure your essay covers all requested information.
  • Avoid jargon and superfluous materials that could detract from your entry. Sometimes less is more.
  • Convincingly describe your work in a positive manner that can be understood by any scientifically literate person – namely our judges. Imagine how it may read if it were published in Scientific American or Nature.
  • Review and reference previously successful applications for inspiration:

AccuSpine Essay
AccuSpine Patentability
Advisor Letter

Have more questions?

We’re here to help you through the entry process:
Call 800.968.4332 and choose option 5 or email us at