How To Apply

To apply, click on the appropriate category tab on the left side of this page. When you are ready to submit your application click on the “Apply Now” button atop the category webpage (available in late September). You will be asked to complete a webform, take a brief survey, then upload your proposal. Please allow at least 20 minutes for the entire process.

Once you have submitted your proposal, make sure you are redirected to a webpage acknowledging your proposal has been submitted. You should also receive a confirmation via email. If you do not receive confirmation, or have any problems please contact us at 510.666.9120.

How Big Ideas Works

The Big Ideas contest is split into two rounds: a pre-proposal round in the fall and a full proposal round in the spring.

Round 1: Pre-proposal

Eligible students are invited to submit a single PDF document no more than 3 pages (max. 1,600 words) by Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:00pm noon PT. Please note that Scaling Up participants have a separate set of requirements and eligibility, and should thoroughly review the category page prior to applying. Failure to follow these instructions may result in disqualification. References and citations are permitted in the pre-proposal round and are not included in the 3-page pre-proposal limit. Appendices are not allowed in the pre-proposal round, but will be permitted in the final round if your team is selected to participate.

Judges will select approximately 5 to 8 teams in each category to continue on to the full proposal round of the contest in the spring. All pre-proposal teams will receive detailed feedback from the judges, regardless of whether or not they are selected as finalists. Pre-proposal entrants will be notified the mid-December 2017 if they have been selected as a finalist.

Round 2: Full Proposal

Finalist teams will have the opportunity to develop and refine their pre-proposals into 10-15 page “full proposals” due on March 7, 2018 at 12:00pm noon PT. In this full proposal, finalists will expand on the ideas presented in their pre-proposals, edit their proposals based on judges’ feedback, and refine their project ideas through collaboration with a Big Ideas mentor (an industry professional matched to the finalist team based on the mentor’s content knowledge and areas of strength). From the finalist pool, judges will select between two and five award winners in each category.

Pitch Day & People’s Choice Awards

Student teams can earn additional prize money via two avenues:

People’s Choice Video Contest: All non-finalist and finalist teams will be invited in the spring to submit a two-minute video about their project to the People’s Choice Video Contest. Voting for this contest is open to the public, and one winner will receive a $2500 award.

Grand Prize Pitch Day: Select finalist teams will be invited to attend the Big Ideas Pitch Day in April 2018, where teams will pitch their project ideas to a panel of judges. Judges will then select Pitch Day winners to receive an additional award.