Frequently Asked Questions


Finalists will be selected to participate in a judged fast-pitch contest to be held in the Theatre at the World Ag Expo® in Tulare, California on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm PST. The Theatre is inside the International Agri-Center on World Ag Expo® grounds located at 4500 S Laspina St, Tulare, CA 93274. In addition to prizes, winners will receive strategic feedback about their innovation, business model, and go-to-market strategy. Event highlights include networking with C-level executives, investors, and mentorship to support launching their innovations.

General FAQ

What is the HIC?

The HIC is an innovation competition designed to accelerate the best future of hemp innovation on earth by supporting hemp entrepreneurs, students and others who are launching the world’s most disruptive hemp innovations for people, profit, and the planet.

Why is the HIC happening in 2020?

a. World Ag Expo® (WAE) organizers decided a HEMP Pavilion would help their 53 year old world class event. Then we invented the Hemp Innovation Challenge as part of the hemp focus.
b. Hemp was recently legalized (again) at the federal level
c. The market for hemp in various forms is a high growth market (>30% CAGR)
d. California is in the early stages of defining hemp rules for each county

Where will HIC events be held on the WAE grounds in Tulare, CA?

a. HIC Fast-Pitch – to be held at the Theatre
b. Poster Sessions – in Learning Center next to the Theatre

I’ve heard there are events related to the HIC, what are they?

Yes! There are 3 planned:
a. FAST-PITCH COMPETITION – HIC main event (a fast-pitch, judged competition with prizes)
b. WAE HEMP Mixer
c. WAE H.E.M.P. Pavilion

When during Feb 11-13 will HIC events take place?

a. HIC Fast-Pitch presentations – Wednesday, February 12 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm PT
b. Hemp Mixer – WHEN and WHERE?
c. WAE HEMP Panel discussions – 24 total. Happening during 3-day event
d. WAE HEMP Pavilion – open from 9-5pm Feb 11-13

Does it cost extra to attend the HIC?

 No, your WAE tickets will give you entrance to the HIC Pavilion

Sponsor FAQ

How do I sponsor the HIC?

a. Read THIS Sponsorship Guide
b. Call Mike Reid at 888.222.4656 to discuss

Can I participate as both a sponsor and an innovator?

No. That would be a conflict of interest.

How can I optimize my sponsorship spend for the 2020 HIC?

a. Set goals for the event
b. Make a plan – discuss with HIC organizers who want you to reach your goals for the event!
c. Prepare before February – connect with innovators aligned with your goals
d. Come to the event and play an active role

Volunteer FAQ

Why would I want to volunteer to help produce HIC?

a. To be part of the most exciting new movement in a rapidly growing new industry.
b. Meet great people.
c. Use your skills to make a difference.
d. Get known in the industry and earn yourself future employment somewhere in it!

What volunteer jobs are available and what is the time commitment?

a. Web design – 2-4 hours a week
b. Sponsorship Sales – commission only – 4-20 hours a week
c. Graphic Design – 4-8 hours a week
d. Finding HIC Participants – 5 hour a week minimum
e. Event Support – day of the event

How do I volunteer?

Innovator FAQ

How Do I Submit an Innovation?

Click Here to Submit an Innovation

Does it Cost to Apply?


Can I submit more than one innovation?


I heard you will have a ROLLING SELECTION process to choosing innovations, what does that mean?

It means the sooner you submit your innovation, the better the chance you have to win since we will be screening ideas weekly from December through January for our Inaugural Event on February 12th at the World Ag Expo.

Must I be there to win?

No! If you are a finalist, we will allow you to make your pitch to the judges via remote internet link like Skype video or Zoom.

How will you protect my idea?

Protection is your job. The best defense is a good offense. Exposure due to the HIC may give you a market lead as a first mover. Just like Coca-Cola doesn’t share its recipe, you can talk about your innovation without explaining trade secrets. Patents and trademarks can help but speed to market may be better for you.

What is the best strategy to win the HIC?

if your innovation solves a real* problem in a cool** way or advances a challenging area, you will have a good chance to win!
*real – others are trying to solve the problem
**cool – elegant, cost-effective, creative, sustainable

What is the best strategy to win the HIC?

if your innovation solves a real* problem in a cool** way or advances a challenging area, you will have a good chance to win!
*real – others are trying to solve the problem
**cool – elegant, cost-effective, creative, sustainable

Can I apply with an innovation idea for a non-profit?

Yes! We encourage this. People, Profits, and Planet or “triple bottom line” firms are often B-corps or non-profits.

How much can I win?

Depends on sponsors donations. The current purse is $5,000

What funding prospects will be at HIC?

We will invite angel investors, venture firms, private equity, family office, F500 venture executives, and investment bankers. Some foundations are acting like VC firms now and may be good funding sources for you. We will invite folks from foundations as well. 

How mature must my innovation be?

It must fall into 1 of 7 categories:


  1. Concept
    b. Proof of Concept
    c. Working Prototype
  2. Scalable Product – Ready to Launch

Post Revenue

  1. Launched < 1 year
    f. Launched > 1 year
    g. Profitable