Contests for Business Students in Sustainability – Innovation and Design

There are various ways to embed sustainability into the curriculum and to get students engaged in sustainability issues. One is to invite students to get involved in one of a growing number of global competitions and contests, often organized in partnership with the business sector, which allows them the opportunity to explore solutions to existing business and sustainability challenges. These contests sometimes offer winners fame, other times cash prizes, but more importantly an opportunity to move these issues forward.

In this section, I will regularly share with you different contests that you could get your students engaged in around the topic of sustainability. Here we look at challenges relating to Innovation and Design:

Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award, launched in 2009, aims to promote forward thinking in social and environmental responsibility. A range of Universities are involved, including Tsinghua University in China, University of Cambridge in the UK, and Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico. Graduate students submit their research and projects and winners are selected in a peer review process based on innovative thinking and excellence in research; a project’s potential for solving significant world challenges such as energy, water, housing or food; and the interdisciplinary nature of their work.

Biomimicry Student Design Challenge takes place annually and provides the opportunity for students to work in interdisciplinary teams to apply Biomimicry concepts and tools to arrive at a sustainable and innovative design solution. The 2012-2013 challenge is focused on examining how nature manages water and applies what you learn to a local or global water challenge.

The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University organizes an annual Base of the Pyramid Short Essay Competition sponsored by USAID and the International Finance Corporation. This global competition highlights the challenges of doing business in underserved markets and identifies innovative business experiments or solutions to these challenges, while the top submissions earn cash prizes.


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