Global Ingenuity Challenge

An online competition for interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate students to find solutions to real-life problems.

Global Ingenuity Challenge


The innovative U21 Global Ingenuity Challenge (GIC) was launched in February 2015. This on-line competition challenges teams of undergraduate students to come-up with solutions to real-life issues. A broad theme is selected every year that allows for an interdisciplinary approach to solutions and analysis, so that it appeals to a wide range of students and disciplines. ‘Ingenuity’ is a tried and tested process for creative problem solving and radical (as opposed to incremental) innovation developed at the University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The process has a three-fold structure: defining the problem to be solved, identifying a wide range of possibilities, then determining the most appropriate solution. Students and facilitators are supported by an interactive web-based platform: Ingenuity OnLine (IOL). 


In 2015 countries adopted a set of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. The theme of the 2018 GIC is "Global Issues: Student Responses". We want students teams to select one of the UN Sustainable Goals and devise a strategy and identify resources to engage a wide cross section of the student body in developing an appropriate response to the goal.

Team Size

Each member university is invited to register at least one team for the 2018 GIC. Members can put forward a maximum of four teams (should more than four teams be interested please contact the Student Experience Cluster Manager).  Teams must comprise 3 - 5 students. Teams participating from each university are encouraged to take a different approach to the theme.  Members are encouraged to select multi-disciplinary teams in order to capture diverse approaches to and ideas for the challenge. U21 will fund the first team from each member institution. The time commitment per student has been estimated (based on previous challenges) at a minimum of 10 hours per challenge.

Ingenuity Facilitators

Each participating university must select one ingenuity facilitator (member of staff). U21 have streamlined the role of the Ingenuity Facilitator from previous iterations of the competition. Facilitators are expected to be the contact point with the U21 Coordinator (Student Experience Cluster Manager), collate votes for the Peers’ Choice Award, and distribute awards to the student participants. Where feasible, it would be beneficial if facilitators provided a mentoring role to the student teams over the course of the two-week challenge.

The overall time commitment per facilitator is estimated (based on previous challenges) at approx. 5-6 hours per challenge (facilitators should allow an extra hour per team if facilitating more than one team).


An international judging panel will determine the winning team. Each student on the winning team will win US $500. A grant of US $1,800 in funding will be available to the winning team should they wish to develop their submission into a tangible project (for example, the first prize winning teams in 2017 (Amsterdam and Nottingham) are in the process of developing web apps based on their winning submissions). The team will need to submit a business case with a clearly defined deliverable to receive the grant.

A Peers’ Choice Award will be chosen by students who participate in the challenge who will review the videos submitted by their peers and vote for one of them (not their own). Winners of the Peers’ Choice Award will receive an iTunes voucher for US $100 per team member.

All participants will receive a commendation award from U21.


Teams must complete the challenge within a two-week period (see timeline section below for further information).

To facilitate the varying term times across the network the competition will run in two stages – members must select one stage.

At the end of the two-week period, students must have distilled their ideas into a three-minute video presentation or pitch, which forms the basis of their entry into the competition.

Note: Submissions must be three minutes or less. Videos exceeding three minutes will be disqualified.


Teams must select one stage:






23 February


6 April    


Deadline for U21 member institutions to:

confirm entry

provide estimate of number of participating teams (if possible)

provide a facilitator contact name and email address

Please email with this information.

26 February – 8 March

9 - 19 April

All facilitators will be provided with access to Ingenuity OnLine (IOL) platform, along with supporting materials.

9 – 30 March


18 April – 9 May


Student teams will work on the challenge over a two-week time slot within this three-week period. The 3-minute video pitch must be uploaded at the end of the two-week period. At the end of the two challenge U21

11 May

All videos released for adjudication and Peers’ Choice Award.

14 May – 1 June

Adjudication Period.

8 June

Winners and Peers’ Choice Award announced.


Team participation is coordinated by each individual member university. Students interested in being considered for a place in their university's teams should contact their International Office (or equivalent) for further information on how to apply.


The participation fee for the first team from each member institution will be covered by U21. Additional teams (up to four teams per member) are welcome to participate, at a registration fee of £175 per team, payable to the University of Nottingham (the U of N will invoice the institutions after the competition has closed).


Bernice Molloy, Student Experience Cluster Manager (

Further Information

Information (with links to the video entries) on the 2015, 2016 and 2017 iterations of the GIC is available below:

GIC 2015: The 2015 Global Ingenuity Challenge focussed on a solution to one of the world’s most pressing problems: how do we move people around in cities? The winning idea was Project Step City, devised by a team of students at the University of New South Wales. The Peoples’ Choice Award (judged by the all the participants in the competition) was awarded to a team from the University of Queensland.

GIC 2016: The 2016 Global Ingenuity Challenge focussed on the challenge of sustainable housing. A team of students from Korea University and the University of Connecticut were jointly awarded the top prize. The team from Korea University addressed the isolation of a single person household in a fast-growing economy while the students from the University of Connecticut approached the problem of urban decay in the United States through the model of microfinancing. The Peers’ Choice Award was another tie between Korea and Lund Universities.

GIC 2017: For the 2017 Global Ingenuity Challenge we asked students to reflect on how they could be a force for change (on campus and beyond) through promoting a culturally inclusive environment and in supporting diversity. The first prize was jointly awarded to teams from the Universities of Amsterdam and Nottingham. The 'Unify' entry from the University of Amsterdam proposed an app that would facilitate home and international student interaction through academic and social activities while also providing a platform for further interactive engagement. The 'YOCO' entry from the University of Nottingham encouraged inclusivity by proposing an app for a solution to a problem that all students face - making new friends. The Peers’ Choice Award was awarded to the University of Nottingham.

 Previous winning entries from 2015-17 can be viewed here.

Bernice Molloy
SE Cluster Manager