Since 2006, over 450 student teams have received recognition and funding through the Big Ideas Contest. After using Big Ideas awards to pilot and test innovations, Big Ideas alumni often are ready to scale their projects and move their ventures forward. “Scaling Up Big Ideas” is an opportunity for former winners to gain additional support in reaching additional communities, developing new solutions to related problems, or otherwise expanding the impact of their projects.

The Challenge

The challenge for this category is for previous Big Ideas award winners to (1) highlight key achievements or progress made in implementing their original winning project idea, (2) document lessons learned in initial implementation, and (3) describe plans to revise their venture’s design or scale up their model. For the purposes of this category, Scaling Up is defined as reaching a new geographic area or underserved population, or adding to the scope and/or services of the original project in the same geographic area.

Eligibility & Rules

The Scaling Up category is open to currently matriculated students or recent graduates (within the past three years) who previously won a Big Ideas award.

All teams considering applying to the Scaling Up category are strongly encouraged to schedule an advising appointment with a Big Ideas staff member.

  1. Teams that have won a Scaling Up award in the past are not eligible to reapply. However, teams that have reapplied to Scaling Up and did not receive an award are strongly encouraged to reapply.
  2. At least one member on the original Big Ideas winning submission must be on the current team applying under the Scaling Up category.
  3. The Team Lead (primary applicant) will be the main contact person for all Big Ideas communications and must be a matriculated student at an eligible campus at the time of the pre-proposal deadline. The Team Lead has final authority in determining prize disbursement options.
  4. Unlike participation in other Big Ideas categories, Scaling Up prizes are grants, not awards. Thus, there are a few minimum reporting requirements asked of winners of this category.
  5. Prizes will only be awarded for high-quality submissions. Decisions of the judges are final and not subject to appeal.

Scaling Up Application Requirements

In the final round, applicants in the Scaling Up category should adhere to the same Full Proposal Application Requirements as all other applicants. The only exception is that Scaling Up finalists should include a “past progress statement” containing the following:

  1. The name of the original project & the year it received a Big Ideas award.
  2. Brief description of the original project idea.
  3. A report on project progress since the time of the original award, and detail any milestones and accomplishments (e.g. number of people reached, products delivered, partnerships developed, additional funding secured, registering as a formal entity, employees hired, or social impact). Include key lessons learned and best practices, and if applicable, pivots or strategy revisions.

Past Winners



Dost Education

Dost Education

Transcense – Seamless Deaf/hearing conversations (UC Berkeley)

Ava (formerly Transcense)

More Winners


The Blum Center for Developing Economies
The Blum Center links world-class faculty, inspiring new curriculum, and innovative technologies, services and business models to create real-world solutions for developing economies.