Scaling Up Big Ideas Contest

Eligibility & Rules

The 2020 Scaling Up Big Ideas Contest is open to projects that have won a Big Ideas award within the past three years (2016 or later). Applicants are required to submit both a written proposal and a short promotional video. The winning team will receive a grant of up to $25,000 Please carefully read all of the information contained on this webpage.

  1. Teams that have won a Scaling Up award in the past are not eligible to reapply.
  2. The Team Lead must be an enrolled student or recent graduate (within the past three years) from a currently eligible campus who was part of the Big Ideas award-winning project.
  3. The Team Lead has final authority in determining prize disbursement options.
  4. Prizes will only be awarded for high-quality submissions. Decisions of the judges are final and not subject to appeal.
  5. The Contest organizers reserve the right to adjust the rules, terms or awards associated with this competition if necessary.

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

Application Requirements

All teams applying to the 2020 Scaling Up Big ideas Contest must:

  1. Submit a Statement of Interest (SOI) form by Monday, February 17, 1pm Pacific Time;
  2. Submit a written application, between 5 to 8 pages, and a marketing video, between 2-4 minutes, by Friday, April 3, 1pm Pacific Time.

Pending the judges’ review of applications, up to three teams will be selected to participate in the Scaling Up Big Ideas Grand Prize Pitch Day competition on May 6, 2020. The Pitch Day winner will receive a grant of up to $25,000.

1. Statement of Interest (Due Monday February 17, 1pm Pacific Time)

Teams interested in applying to the Scaling Up Big Ideas Contest must indicate their interest by completing the Statement of Interest (SOI) form no later than February 17th at  1pm PST. All teams submitting an SOI will be eligible to submit a full application unless otherwise notified. Teams submitting an SOI will receive a link directing them to the Scaling Up Big Ideas application platform.

2. Explainer (“Promo”) Video (Due Friday, April 3, 1pm Pacific Time)

All teams applying to the Scaling Up Big Ideas Contest are required to submit an explainer, or promotional, video of their project, between 90 seconds and 3 minutes in length. Teams have a wide degree of latitude about what to include in their video — but some general guidelines on what to include are as follows:

  • Note the problem/challenge being addressed;
  • Describe the solution and/or venture in action;
  • Highlight the project’s impact and most innovative aspects;
  • Introduce the team and their capabilities;
  • Convey a vision and potential for impact.

We hope that this video will be an asset for Scaling Up teams project going forward, so feel free to use sound, post-production effects, creativity, and general wizardry to develop an engaging video that can be used well beyond the scope of the Scaling Up competition! Videos should be uploaded to YouTube and the URL included in the application platform along with the written proposal (by April 3, 2020.)

Explainer Video Tips & Resources:


3. Written Proposal (Due Friday April 3, 1pm Pacific Time)

Applicants are instructed to submit a written proposal, between 5 to 8 pages in length, single-spaced (including the required budget and implementation timeline). Appendices and references are permitted and are not included in the page limit. Big Ideas recommends that Scaling Up teams include the components below — however teams may modify the order and presentation of the information as needed to tell their story. The basic required components are as follows:

Problem Statement

This section includes a clear description and background information on the identified problem. An effective problem statement is thoroughly researched, shows a deep understanding of the issue, and builds a strong case to support why the project is needed and its potential for impact. This includes but is not limited to: research/statistics on the problem, and/or research/statistics about the target community or market.

Landscape Analysis

This section is an overview of any similar services, programs, interventions, or products that have been designed or implemented to address this problem. Where applicable, applicants should discuss the limitations of these approaches, the gaps that still exist, and present research on what has been done in the past and where those solutions fell short.

Project Summary and
Past Progress

List the name of the original project, the year it received a Big Ideas award, and a brief summary of the original project idea. Report on project progress since the time of the original award, and detail 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.

Next Steps Forward

This is the “nuts and bolts” portion of the proposal and focuses on the team’s plans for scaling the project. The majority of this section should outline the objectives for the 1-year prize period, beginning July 1, 2020 and ending June 31, 2021. It should convey a clear strategy and a specific timeline for achieving those goals and address any implementation challenges that may arise. In this section, teams may also reflect their longer-term vision for the project.


The Grand Prize in the Scaling Up Big Ideas Contest may be up to $25,000. Teams are required to submit a detailed budget for their proposal that includes both expected costs and any potential sources of revenue covering the 1-year period (July 1, 2020 and ending June 31, 2021). Scaling Up applicants may request no more than $25,000 from Big Ideas. The requested amount is typically seen in the “Funding Gap” section of the budget template we have suggested for use. Teams may also include any plans to secure additional funding sources, if appropriate.

Measuring Success

Teams should include information about how they will monitor or measure the impact of success of their project during the 1-year period (July 1, 202 and ending June 31, 2021). This does not need to be a formal monitoring and evaluation plan, but can take the form of metrics and methods to make sure they can track their progress.

Team Bios

A list of key project team members with brief biographies that explain their role and contributions.

Judging Criteria

Scaling Up Big Ideas entries will be judged according to the criteria below.


The team has provided sufficient statistics and research to understand the problem, and makes a clear and compelling case that their project is needed and that it is addressing a pressing social challenge in an innovative manner.

Past Progress & Impact 30%:

The team has made considerable progress on the objectives outlined in their original Big Ideas application. To date, the project has generated momentum, developed critical resources, and achieved (early-stage) social impact.

Future Vision & Impact 30%:

The team has clearly articulated the steps they will take to scale their social venture during the 1-year prize period (July 1, 2020 and ending June 31, 2021). The team presents a convincing argument for how their plan will broaden and/or deepen the social impact of their project.


Based upon the project description, the team members’ capabilities, budget, and timeline (etc.), the activities and goals of the project appear to be realistic and achievable.

Past Winners

Spotlight On Hope Film Camp

Spotlight On Hope is free-of-cost and offers a unique and creative outlet through film and animation instruction for pediatric and young adult cancer patients and


ZestBio is a startup spun out of UC Berkeley that is harnessing the power of biology to convert low value, abundant fruit and vegetable byproducts


Visualize is a simulated training tool designed to train midwives in Ghana to screen for cervical cancer using the most appropriate and accessible screening method,

Trash to Tiles

Ugandans have second or third tier roofs. Trash to Tiles (T3) is repurposing plastic waste in developing nations to produce affordable, quality construction materials such


Husk-to-Home siding is a fiber-plastic composite (FPC) material comprised of recycled high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE) and rice husk. HDPE is a low cost, recyclable, and