Launch Your Big Idea with Big Ideas@Berkeley!

Got an idea that could be the next big thing? The 2013-2014 Big Ideas@Berkeley contest is now underway — offering $300,000 to help you turn your idea into reality.

Big Ideas Gets Bigger and Better in its Eighth Year on Campus

Got an idea that could be the next big thing? The 2013-2014 Big Ideas@Berkeley contest is now underway — offering $300,000 to help you turn your idea into reality.

Big Ideas@Berkeley gives students the opportunity to channel their passion for social change into creative and pragmatic solutions. In addition to offering new categories, more workshops, and a broader pool of professional mentors, the 2013-14 contest offers a chance for applicants to compete with students across California and around the country. Find full contest details at

As past participants know, Big Ideas is more than a contest; it’s an entire ecosystem designed to empower students. “Winning a Big Ideas prize is definitely a different experience than success in other areas of life at a university,” said Nicholas De Raad, a member of the GoodWheels team that took 2nd Place in the “Scaling Up” category in 2013. “Unlike success in academic or internships, for this competition, the initiative and the idea that a team works on is developed out of personal interest to further a social cause.”

Over the course of a school year, the contest provides funding, encouragement, and advice to Berkeley students. In addition to writing and budget workshops, applicants have the opportunity to be matched with mentors from social enterprises, industry, and non-profits who are eager to help students develop their ideas.

“I can now say I have written a successful grant, can write a budget, create a proposal, plan a two year timeline, identify potential future plans, and anticipate different types of training that will be needed,” said Adena Ishii, whose project Berkeley City College Service Community tied GoodWheels for 2nd in 2013. “These are skills that most people have to learn after they’ve left school, and I’ve been given the opportunity to practice them now.”

Undergraduate and graduate students at Cal are encouraged submit proposals in one of the following categories:
Global Poverty Alleviation
• Creative Expression for Social Justice
Clean & Sustainable Energy Alternatives
Financial Capability
Improving Student Life
IT for Society
• Open Data
• Promoting Human Rights
• Scaling up Big Ideas

With two info sessions (9/4 & 10/7) and two writing workshops (9/26 & 10/16) Big Ideas is designed to support students from all parts of campus. The info session on September 4th (6-7pm, B100 Blum Hall) will feature an inspiring talk by past Big Ideas@Berkeley winner Nikhil Arora, Co-Founder of Back to the Roots Ventures, followed by an overview of the Big Ideas Contest.

In addition, applicants have access to drop-in advising sessions and all finalists are given the opportunity to work with professional mentors for eight weeks beginning in January.

Pre-proposal applications are due by November 5th, 2013. For more information about rules, categories, resources, funding, and contact information, please visit the Big Ideas website at
Big Ideas@Berkeley is sponsored by the following: