Big Ideas for an Unprecedented Year

2020 has been a challenging and stressful year in so many ways. COVID-19 has affected the entire world, exposing inadequate public health systems and causing disproportionate impacts based on economic class, existing health conditions, physical environments, and race.

Yet amidst so much uncertainty and turmoil, there is unprecedented opportunity for change. We have the capacity to envision and create a new world that is more just, prioritizes climate concerns, addresses poverty and hunger, and improves economic and social equality. If there was ever a time when your innovative and bold ideas are needed, it is now.

So, what’s your Big Idea?

As a college student, there is absolutely no better time than now to think about what matters to you—and to build your idea into something tangible; something real. It is no surprise that some of the most innovative companies and social enterprises were created by college students. You have extraordinary access to classes, programs, co-curricular workshops and supportive advisors who are enthusiastic to help you succeed. You have a ready-made pool of talented fellow students from many different disciplines and diverse backgrounds to build your team. Most importantly, you have the energy and fresh ideas that are needed now more than ever to tackle the most challenging issues facing our society. So, if you have an idea and it’s there nagging at you, what are you waiting for?

At Big Ideas, we are committed to helping you with your early-stage, social-impact innovation. We have four weeks left until the November 20th application deadline! In over 10 years, the Big Ideas Contest has awarded 500 winning teams a total of $2.5 million in prizes. Big Ideas participants have the chance to win up to $20,000 in awards, receive mentorship and extensive feedback from judges, and access valuable development workshops and networking opportunities.

Three-page applications are due November 20th at 1:00 pm PST. Check out our website for more information on this year’s application requirements and details on how to apply, or sign up for a 1-on-1 advising session with a Big Ideas advisor to talk through your idea and see if it is a good fit. 

Are you still on the fence? Well, don’t take it from us– listen to Big Ideas alumni!

Time is running out! Apply now to the Big Ideas Contest!

If there was ever a time to think big and be bold, now is the time. Apply to get mentorship and funding for your Big Idea!


Industry Advising Clinic

Review the bios and profiles of the industry advisors who will be participating in the clinic on November 9th.

Big Ideas Industry Advising Clinic is happening Wednesday, March 31, 4-7pm!

Review the bios and profiles of the industry advisors who will be participating in the clinic on March 31st. To book an appointment, click on the Advising Sign-Up button, read the instructions carefully, and follow all of the required steps on the sign-up sheet.

These appointments book quickly — First-come-first-serve — Limited 2 sign-ups per team

Lawrence Ocubrn Image

Lawrence Coburn

Twine, CEO, Co-founder
Serial Entrepreneur


Jill Finlayson

Women In Technology Initiative, Director

Andrea French

Andrea French

UC Office of the President, Strategic Program Manager (I&E)


Francis Gonzales

Social Impact Design Strategist


Ed Henrich

SCET, Startup Executive


Jeremy Hammer

Harness, Co-Founder & CEO

Sara Beth Janzen_Image

Sara Beth Janzen

CA Academy of Sciences, Director of Corp & Foundation Philanthropy

Joe Dougherty_Headshot

Joe Dougherty

Dahlberg Advisors, Partner

Erica Lock2

Erica Lock

Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Vice President


Kaitie Penry

National Security Innovation Network, University Program Director


Nadir Shams

Skoll Foundation,
Associate Director