GGCS 2019 Student Competition – Student Participants

The Royal Academy of Engineering is inviting university teams to participate in the Global Grand Challenges Summit Competition 2019, a programme of challenge-led innovation, design and business development, culminating in the opportunity for teams to attend a Collaboration Lab event and the Global Grand Challenges Summit in London, UK.


The Competition

University teams are invited to propose an innovation or novel approach to address global challenges associated with the sub-themes of the Summit.

As the themes are broad, we expect the teams to tackle one or more element of a challenge rather than the entire subject. For example, this could include:

  • How do we feed 10 billion?
  • Is continued urbanisation inevitable and desirable?
  • How can we achieve globally equitable access to technology?
  • How do we stop the world being water short?
  • How do we make innovation circular?

Please note that at this stage we are not asking for a fully-fledged project or startup business, but rather an initial idea of an innovation. Teams will acquire the knowledge and tools to develop their innovations during the April workshop. The innovation must be viable with a clear route to growth and sustained impact, though does not need to be a profit-making entity.

Five champion teams from each country – UK, US, and China – will be selected to attend a Collaboration Lab event (12-16 September) and the Global Grand Challenges Summit 2019 in London (16-18 September 2019). 

On 12 September 2019 (afternoon) an icebreaking activity will take place. On 13 September 2019, the first day of the Co-Lab, the above five winning teams from each country will compete against each other, presenting a 3-5-minute pitch of their proposals to a selection of senior judges and all Collaboration Lab event participants.

Winning teams will be awarded a small cash prize, and publicised via appropriate media channels.

All five champion teams will then participate in the Collaboration Lab and Global Grand Challenges Summit, as outlined below, alongside other students from the UK, China, and USA.


UK Competition

The UK Student Competition is now closed.

The Royal Academy of Engineering will shortlist twenty teams to take part in a two-day interactive workshop in April, facilitated by a delivery partner. On this occasion, students will acquire the knowledge and tools to work independently on the ideas that they have submitted, developing focused design solutions to global challenges – related to the Global Grand Challenges Summit 2019 theme – leading to a competition showcase hosted by the Academy in June 2019, when five winning teams will be appointed.

They will have the chance to further develop their projects and pitch them on the first day of the Collaboration Lab preceding the Summit, competing against an equal number of teams from China and the US

Further details on the UK Competition and how to apply are available here:

UK Student Competition


Collaboration Lab – 12-16 September 2019

The Collaboration Lab in London, UK, will bring together around 300 students – comprising the winning 15 in-country teams and additionally selected students – from the UK, USA and China to stimulate and encourage them to work cross-culturally and across disciplines through a programme of challenge-led innovation, providing the tools to respond to global challenges in transformational ways.

The event will be kicked off by the final of the Student Competition, with pitching presentations from the five champion teams from each country to a panel of senior judges, as outlined above.

All students will then be mixed up to generate new teams, with members from each of the three countries. These new mixed teams will be challenged to collaborate and draw on each other’s skills and experience to develop solutions to the grand challenges. It is expected that many of these innovations will develop and build on those pitched by the student champion teams.

The programme for the three days will include:

  • Cross-cultural icebreakers and team building sessions
  • Scenario-based facilitated workshops, including time to develop new proposals in mixed teams
  • Inspirational speaker sessions
  • Opportunities for feedback and mentoring from senior engineers
  • Evening social events, including the opportunity to see and experience London
  • On the final morning of the Collaboration Lab, the mixed country teams will present their proposals for judging through a showcase exhibition event. Judges will select 4-5 winning mixed teams to present their proposals at the main Summit


University team eligibility

  • The UK Student Competition is open only to undergraduate students enrolled at a UK university. If you are enrolled at a US or Chinese university, contact respectively the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) or the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), as they are organising parallel Student Competitions. If you are a student coming from outside the UK, US or China, then unfortunately you are not able to participate in the UK Student Competition
  • Each team must comprise between four and six undergraduate student members (including final year students)
  • All teams must designate a team leader who is required to be from an engineering programme, but students from other disciplines are strongly encouraged to be part of the team
  • Each team must have at least one mentor who is willing to travel to London for the Summit with their team


​What past attendees say....

“At the 2017 Global Grand Challenges Summit, I felt very lucky to be immersed in numerous illuminating conversations about the conundrums and opportunities that the Global Grand Challenges present. At the 2019 Summit, I look forward to broadening my perspectives on equitable solutions to water scarcity and the challenges of fostering a circular economy amid population growth.”

Bethany from Virginia, GGCS 2017 podcast winner

“The 2017 GGC Summit was an incredible experience as a student. I was engaged during the whole conference while global leaders were sharing their ideas and strategies on how to solve our most urgent problems. The Summit is a unique gathering of inspiration, innovation, and dedication to making our world better for future generations. The 2019 Summit will be an exciting opportunity to meet fellow engineering students and mentors who share the same passion for making a difference for humanity.”

Katie from Texas, GGCS 2017 podcast winner