Big Ideas at Berkeley contest – deadline is Nov. 6, 2012

Big Ideas at Berkeley contest - deadline is Nov. 6, 2012

Big Ideas@Berkeley competition is now open. This year there is $300,000 available in prize money to students! Big Ideas is an innovation ecosystem that provides training, networks, recognition, and funding to interdisciplinary teams of students who have transformative solutions to real-world problems.

Big Ideas@Berkeley provides funding, support, and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students who have ‘Big Ideas.’ Big Ideas encourages students to propose innovative solutions across a broad range of social impact tracks. Based on the scope of the project, teams will indicate a primary track that best fits their project. Since its founding in 2006, it has inspired innovative and high-impact student projects aimed at solving the world’s most pressing problem.

This year’s competition promises up to $300K in awards in 9 different contests.

2012-13 Big Ideas Contest Categories

How Does Big Ideas Work?

The contest has two rounds: a pre-proposal round in the fall and a full proposal round in the spring.

  • Round 1: Pre-proposal (First Round) – Eligible students are invited to submit a 3-page, 1,600-word pre-proposal via the website. Approximately 30-40 teams will be selected to continue to the final round of the contest in the spring. All pre-proposal teams will receive detailed feedback from the judges, regardless of whether or not they are invited to participate in the final round. All applicants will be notified of their status in December.
  • Round 2: Full Proposal (Final Round) – Teams selected for the final round will submit a short application video (between 60 and 90 seconds) in addition to an 8-page written proposal. In this round, teams will expand on the design of their social innovations and incorporate the judges’ feedback. Additionally, to help further these proposals, teams are paired with a Big Ideas mentor (an experienced professional matched to the team based on expertise and background). Award winners will be announced in May with prizes ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Prizes will be awarded only for high-quality submissions. Decisions are final and not subject to appeal.
  • Grand Prize Pitch Day & Awards Celebration – The Big Ideas community will gather for its annual Grand Prize Pitch & Awards Celebration to recognize the most outstanding innovations in the contest. A select group of finalist teams will be invited to participate in the Grand Prize Pitch event for the opportunity to win up to an additional $10,000 for their project. Following the pitches, there will be a poster and demo session featuring all of the projects and innovators from the Big Ideas Contest.

Who Can Participate?

  • Student-Led: Projects must be initiated and led by an undergraduate or graduate student (or students) from an eligible campus. The project should not be an extension of faculty-guided research or led by a non-student established organization (i.e. non-profit or for-profit entity).
  • Early-Stage: Big Ideas supports early-stage projects. These can range from brand new ideas with a team just assembling, to projects that have formed recently (within 2 years).
  • Social Impact: Projects must have a clear social impact. The project should be centered around an innovation (technologies, services, programs) that produces a clear benefit with the potential for sustained improvement in the lives of groups or individuals.

Submissions are due by November 6, 2012

To learn more visit the Big Ideas website:


The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.

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