After finalists submit their full proposals, in the past Big Ideas has offered additional prize opportunities to students to expand their project development skill sets beyond proposal writing. It should be noted that the Awards Celebration and Grand Prize Pitch Day were held as separate events from 2012 through 2019. However, beginning in 2020, Big Ideas will be merging these events to create one marquee showcase of all Big Ideas projects that includes both pitches and postering.
From 2012 through 2018 Big Ideas offered all applicants the an additional opportunity to highlight their project through the People’s Choice Video Contest. This provided students with the ability to developing a marketing video for their project, share and promote this effort with potential audiences, and develop valuable messaging and technical skills. The video contest was optional for all applicants, but participation was incentivised through a $2500 award and the Big Ideas Contest typically received between 25 to 40 application each year. In the 2018-2019 contest year, Big Ideas changed its full proposal application guidelines to require all teams in the final round to submit a 60-90 “elevator pitch” video, and eliminated the People’s Choice Video Contest. The benefit of switching to this format were that all teams in the final round benefited from the skill development involved with the creation of the elevator pitch video, and it gave the final round judges additional context and insights into the team and their project. Additionally, Big Ideas contest organizers found that many of the People’s Choice Video Contest applicants were repurposing videos previously made for other purposes, therefore minimizing the skill development aspect of this opportunity. Additionally, the winners tended to simply be the projects with the largest, pre-existing networks, and not necessarily the best quality videos.
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.