2020 Ascend Impact Challenge

Social Impact Series - New York , NY (ONLINE)
Image with different healthcare scenarios: 1. Doctor with patient in office, Doctor with a family, and a team of doctor with in a hospital bed.

“Can we build transformative and sustainable business models for Asian and other small businesses to succeed in post-pandemic recovery?”

Challenge Start Date

July 28, 2020

Registration Deadline

February 15, 2020

Submission Deadline

August 23, 2020

Demo Day

September 30, 2020

Winners & Highlight Video


Sky Kitchen


Crowdsource Prize Winner
Team Anti-Social-Social Club


Multigenerational Inclusion Prize
Team Win/Sky Kitchen



Small businesses have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. This competition will gather participants from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and challenge them to conceptualize innovative solutions to help these businesses bounce back.

For example, in 2020, up to 50% of Asian restaurants across the United States have permanently closed, compared to 30% of all restaurants. With some states reopening, many are only allowing up to 25% occupancy – not nearly enough to financially sustain these restaurants through the business recovery phase of reopening. Other Asian-owned retail and small businesses have had similar experiences. To responsively care for our communities, we need to create new models for these businesses.
We are looking for transformative solutions that introduce new business models. We ask that participants identify public and private interventions that will most effectively encourage the recovery and reinvention of these businesses by the end of 2021. We are also asking you to amplify the voices of small business leaders by diving deeply into their issues.



July 2020

Monday, July 13, 2020

Registration Opens

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Webinar 1: Info Session & Customer Discovery

August 2020

Friday, August 7, 2020

Webinar 2: Small Business Pitfalls

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Webinar 3: Pitch Workshop

Sunday, August 23, 2020

11:59pm EST

Initial Submissions Due

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Semi-Final Round

September 2020

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Prototyping Webinar

Tuesday, September 30, 2020

Final Round

Submission Requirements

Research and design a new business model for a restaurant, retail or other small business. To enter the competition, at least one team member must be an Ascend member.

Submissions must include:
Submissions are due by Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM ET for preliminary evaluation and will be showcased at the Semi-Final Round on August 26, 2020 during which four or five finalists will be selected. Finalists will receive further training and time to hone their business models and develop a prototype for demonstration.
Download Submission Guidelines PDF
Finalist teams will compete for the Grand Prize by presenting their demos at the Final Round on September 30, 2020. Teams are encouraged to consult their Ascend-paired mentor and Feed Your Hospital restaurant partners (or other small business contacts) along the way. Teams will also receive guidance through webinars and workshops offered in upcoming weeks.

Post-convention, Ascend plans to host a follow-on Hackathon focused on bringing prototypes from this Impact Challenge to life. Participants will be allowed to use open source as well as commercial tools, in addition to their own proprietary solutions, to develop creative and efficient technology to implement their business model ideas. Details on this event are forthcoming, however, teams are encouraged to involve UI/UX and coding/developer specialists in their teams from the beginning!


Projects will be judged based on the following criteria:


If you have any inquiries about participating in this competition, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at expeditionhacks@blueclarity.io.