UK Global Grand Challenges Student Competition 2019

The competition is now closed.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is inviting university teams to participate in the Global Grand Challenges Student Competition 2019: a six-month competition to find the best student-developed solution to one of the global challenges, and an opportunity for students to develop their skills and expertise in developing transformational solutions to complex global issues.  


The UK competition

Twenty UK shortlisted teams will take part in a two-day interactive workshop in April 2019 (29-30 April), where students will work with experts to explore the social, political and economic dimensions of global challenges and, most importantly, will build the knowledge and tools they need to develop their proposed solutions to global challenges related to the Global Grand Challenges Summit 2019 theme.

Teams will then develop their innovations independently ahead of a competition showcase in June 2019 (27-28 June), where five teams will be selected to compete in the competition final on 13 September against teams from China and the USA.

Winning teams will be awarded a small cash prize, and be promoted through the Academy’s media and social media channels.


Global Collaboration Lab

All teams shortlisted in the UK Global Grand Challenges competition will be invited to a student Collaboration Lab event, held in London between 12-16 September 2019, alongside finalist teams from the USA and China. Please note that on 12 September 2019, there will be an icebreaking activity taking place in the afternoon. 

At the Collaboration Lab, students will be asked to form new mixed-country teams that will collaborate over the course of three days to develop new or improved innovations. They will pitch these innovations to judges on the final day of the event. Judges will then shortlist a number of mixed-country teams to present at the Global Grand Challenges Summit.


Global Grand Challenges Summit

All Student Competition teams will attend the Global Grand Challenges Summit on 16-18 September 2019 in the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the South Bank Centre in London. The winning mixed-country teams will also have the opportunity to present their Collaboration Lab innovations to an audience of engineers, researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers at the Summit.



University teams should complete the application form and submit this to  Deadline to submit team applications has been extended to 12pm MIDDAY on 25 March 2019

Please note that 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.

GGCS 2019 student competition form (138.22 KB)

Applications will require the following information:  

  • University name
  • Names, email addresses, disciplines and course years of all team members
  • A plan outlining an initial idea to address a global challenge related to the themes of the Global Grand Challenges 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:
  1. How do we feed 10 billion?
  2. Is continued urbanisation inevitable and desirable?
  3. How can we achieve globally equitable access to technology?
  4. How do we stop the world being water short?
  5. How do we make innovation circular?
  • This plan should be no more than two pages, and should detail the problem to be solved, an initial idea for an innovation that will practically address the problem, and next steps that would be taken to develop the innovation
  • Details of an academic member of staff who will act as team mentor


Team guidelines 

  • Each team must comprise between 4 and 6 undergraduate student members.
  • Each team must have at least one academic university mentor who is willing to travel to London for April, June and September events with their team. The University mentor does not necessarily have to be from an engineering programme, as long as he / she is engaged and can support the team in the development of their innovatin. Universities are expected to support their teams academically during all the phases of the project development.
  • Each team 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.
  • The UK Student Competition is open only to undergraduate students enrolled at a UK university. If you are enrolled at a Chinese or US 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


The Academy will cover standard class rail travel / standard class air travel / mileage to London, accommodation, and food at the April, June and September events. Please note that we will cover tube transfers within London (you should endeavour to travel only between zone 1-2) only for the June Competition Showcase. However we are unable to cover external subsistence, airport transfers, parking fees, Wi-Fi outside of the venue, or Ultra Low Emission Zone fees.

Please note that the Academy will pay for standard class rail travel / standard class air travel / mileage to London and accomodation only for students and mentors coming from outside the Greater London area (but only from within the UK) for the April, June and September events outlined above.