Pre-proposal Judges Training (Nov 17, 12pm PT)

Resources for Judges


Apply to be a Judge

If you are interested in serving as a Big Ideas Judges in the future, please review the information below and complete an application form expressing your interest. You will have an opportunity to specify your preferences in terms of contest round and categories in the interest form. Feel free to email us at bigideas@berkeley.edu with questions!

Apply to be a Judge

What Do Judges Do?

Download: Big Ideas Judges Overview

Big Ideas Judges have a unique opportunity to “give back,” while also getting a first-hand look at innovative ideas from UC Berkeley and other universities – and provide invaluable feedback and advice to help shape them. Each year, Big Ideas teams report that the feedback they receive from judges is one of the most valuable takeaways from their experience. In addition to supporting student innovators, judges also have the opportunity to build their own professional networks by joining our growing network of over 500 current and past Big Ideas judges, mentors, faculty and alumni.

This year, there are two opportunities to participate as a judge – you are welcome to participate in one or both.

  • Pre-Proposal Judges: Over a four-week period (from mid-November to early-December) pre-proposal judges review, score and provide feedback on approximately 8 pre-proposals submitted by teams in a category of their choice. Each pre-proposal is 3 pages long. In this round, scoring emphasis is placed on how creative and innovative the idea is within its category.
  • Final-Proposal Judges: Based on the pre-proposal judges’ feedback, finalist teams will be selected to submit a 10 page full proposal due in March. Final-Proposal judges will then review, score and provide feedback on each full proposals in their category over a three-week period (from mid-March to early-April). In this round, more of scoring emphasis is placed on impact, implementation and viability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Download: Big Ideas Judges FAQs

Who are Big Ideas judges?
Judges are professionals from a variety of fields with one thing in common: a passion for innovative ideas. In order to ensure we provide teams with the best feedback possible, and help them to think deeply about their topic and the field it falls into, we look for judges who have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience and at least ONE of the following:

  • Professional skills critical to supporting early stage startups (e.g. Business plan development, Scalability and design thinking, Financial Modeling, IP Strategy, Market Research, Organizational design, Branding/consumer engagement)
  • Expertise in an industry/field that is directly related to one of the 9 Big Ideas Contest categories (e.g. ICT, International Development, CleanTech, Social Justice, Food Systems, etc).
What do Big Ideas Judges do?
Judges help the Big Ideas team determine who will advance to the final round of the contest and who will be selected to receive awards. Judges review student proposals, score them, and provide detailed feedback on how the student or team could improve upon their idea or proposal. This feedback is extremely valuable to students, who receive it anonymously and rely heavily on it to improve their idea!

How/when do judges participate in Big Ideas?
Big Ideas judges help the team by serving as a judge in ONE of the contest categories. Judges can participate remotely in their free time during that window, and will be able to save and come back to their reviews at their convenience. Judges can participate in the Pre-Proposal Round and/or the Final Round of each year’s contest:

  • Pre-Proposal Round: This year’s Pre-Proposal Judging will happen between Nov 13 – Dec 4.
  • Final Round: This year’s Final Round judging will happen between Mar 16 – Mar 30.
What is the time commitment?
During the Pre-Proposal round, judges are asked to review 8-10 pre-proposals. Each proposal is 3 pages long and most judges report spending ~30 minutes reviewing each of them and providing detailed feedback. Including training, judges spend a total 4-6 hours. During the Final Round, judges will review all of the final proposals in their assigned category. Each proposal is 10-15 pages long, and most judges report spending ~45 minutes reviewing each of them. The total time will vary depending on the number of final proposals in each category.

Do judges receive training?
Yes! There is training for judges at the beginning each of round’s judging window. Judges training will be webcast live and recorded so that judges can review the materials they need whenever is most convenient for them.

How am I assigned a category?
Each judge is asked to complete an interest form, where they share their background and experience and their interests, as well as their preferences in terms of which category they would like to serve in. The Big Ideas team assigns categories based on responses and expressed preferences – and will typically confirm your category as soon as you sign up. Judges who express flexibility are often placed once we receive all student applications, and we know where we can best leverage everyone’s expertise!

Can I participate in multiple categories?
Yes! Many judges change categories between rounds and years. The Big Ideas team will do their best to consider preferences and match judges based on their areas of interest and expertise. Judges are also welcome to judge multiple categories in any one round – if they are willing to commit the necessary time. However, it is not possible for a judge to be assigned 6-8 proposals across different categories in any one round.

Where does judging happen?
All judging is done entirely online, so that judges can participate remotely in their free time. Judges will get access to their assigned proposals, as well as brief overviews of all the proposals submitted in their category at the beginning of the judging window. They will then have ~4 weeks to review their proposals at their convenience. All proposals are due by the end of the judging window – but can be saved and returned to anytime before then.

How many judges read each proposal?
On average, between 5-7 judges will read each proposal. Each judge will read approximately between 8-10 proposals for their category, but will be sent via email short (300 word) summaries of all projects in the contest category they are judging.

Can I be involved in both the Pre-Proposal and the Final Rounds?
Yes! We love it when judges choose to participate in both rounds of the contest. Every year, we have judges who choose to judge in both rounds, and judges who choose to do only one or the other. We also have many judges who choose to serve as a Mentor in the Final Round. It is entirely up to you and the time you are willing to commit!

Can I contact teams or share their ideas?
Most teams are in the early stages of their ideas, and have yet to begin the process of protecting their intellectual property, where applicable. Unless a team explicitly states that their idea is open or they are willing for it to be publicly shared, we treat all submissions as confidential. Judges are not given contact information in the proposals, but the Big Ideas team can help facilitate communication between judges and students/teams if students agree to it.