Contest deadline near for students with ‘Big Ideas’ for social change

Students with novel solutions to urgent social issues are encouraged to apply to the Big Ideas contest to receive funding and support they need to get their projects off the ground. The deadline for pre-proposals is Nov. 15.

This year’s deadline for the Big Ideas contest’s pre-proposals is Nov. 15.

Big Ideas, an annual contest that began in 2006, has provided $2.1 million in funding, as well as training and mentorship, to nearly 500 student teams over the past decade with a goal of supporting students in creating lasting social change. The winning teams have used the support to further develop their projects and secure more than $300 million more from investor networks.

Last year’s winner, Tabla, was recently selected as one of Fast Company’s 2017 Innovation by Design Awards from among 2,500 submissions worldwide. With the help of seed funding from Big Ideas, Adam Rao, a bioengineering Ph.D. student at Berkeley, and his team created a small, inexpensive device used to detect pneumonia, the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 worldwide.

The Big Ideas contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all 10 campuses in the UC system. Teams can enter in one of eight categories, ranging from art and social change to food systems to workforce education and development.

To learn more about Big Ideas and to submit a pre-proposal, visit