Additional Contest Opportunities

After finalists submit their full proposals, Big Ideas also offers additional prize opportunities to students to expand their project development skill sets beyond proposal writing.

Category-Specific Poster Sessions

  • Eligibility: All finalists from each category can be required to compete in an additional poster and pitch session. Big Ideas only requires this of the IT for Society category because of the sponsor’s specific requirements.
  • Award: Big Ideas builds in the pitch and poster session into the total Full Proposal score as an additional 20%.
  • Description: Finalist teams will participate in a poster session for their category and hold a Q&A  session with judges and attendees. The presentations will count towards teams’ final round scores.
  • Judging: The judges that reviewed and scored each category’s Full Proposals are required to attend and score teams based on their presentations. At the end of the presentations, the judges deliberate to determine the final winners.

People’s Choice Video Contest

  • Eligibility: All contestants from the entire year (i.e., all applicants who submitted a Pre-proposal application).
  • Award: $2,500 monetary prize
  • Description: In the Video Contest, teams post a short video online, and the public votes on their favorite innovative solution to a pressing social problem. The purpose of the People’s Choice Video Contest is to provide exposure for the Big Ideas contest and the project ideas that are submitted each year, and to give an additional way to share their project ideas and garner funding for those ideas.
  • Judging: Voting is open to the public, and the video with the most votes at the end of a designated voting period receives a monetary prize.
  • Platform: Big Ideas uses Votigo as a platform to upload and advertise video entries, which can be integrated with Facebook for ease of sharing and voting.

Grand Prize Pitch Day

  • Eligibility: Winning teams from the current Contest year are nominated by Big Ideas staff to participate in the event.
  • Award: 1st place – $5,000; 2nd place – $3,000; 3rd place – $1,000
  • Description: After winners are selected, based on the quality of their full proposals, six finalist teams are invited to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges. During the 2015-16 Contest, Big Ideas created two separate pitch categories—Campus & Community Impact and Global Impact—and asked three teams to participate in each. The Campus & Community round focused on local (i.e., campus, Bay Area, or domestic) issues and the Global Round focused on worldwide challenges. Like the People’s Choice Video Contest, the Grand Prize Pitch Day serves as an event that publicizes the Contest and the submitted ideas. Grand Prize Pitch Day also allows the six participating teams to gain experience and expertise pitching their idea in-person to prospective funders.

Judging: An esteemed panel of judges for each round is recruited through the extensive Big Ideas and Blum Center network. It is possible for the Pitch Day judges to have also participated during the regular contest, but they cannot have judged or mentored one of the teams in their respective round.  Former judges include representatives from the US Agency for International Development, the University of California Office of the President, and Big Ideas Alumni. Each panel of judges selects first, second, and third place winners for each pitch round after a deliberation. All teams who participated in the Grand Prize Pitch Day received an award in addition to any award they received for their written proposal.

Awards Celebration

  • Eligibility: The event is open to the public, but only winners can participate in the poster session.
  • Description:  At the end of each Contest year, all winning teams, mentors, judges, and supporters are invited to celebrate the achievements of the closing Big Ideas contest. The Awards Celebration typically includes a keynote address and opportunities for winners from that year’s Contest cycle to speak about their achievements. All winners are also strongly encouraged to submit a poster for their project, which allows them to garner visibility around their idea, present their project visually, and practice pitching their idea to event attendees. Finally, the winner of the People’s Choice Video Contest is revealed at the Awards Celebration, and all winners are given information about how to receive their prize awards. (This ensures maximum participation from the award winning teams.)