Additional Contest Opportunities

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. 

People’s Choice Video Contest

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. 

  • 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 used 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: Poster Session and Big Vote!

  • Eligibility: The event is open to the public. Only Big Ideas prize winner can participate in the poster session, however any applicant (finalist or non-finalist) may participate in the Big Vote!.
  • Award: Poster Session – 1st place – $500; Big Vote! – 1st place – $500
  • Description:  At the end of each Contest year, all teams (finalists and non-finalists), 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. The best poster, as chosen by the Big Ideas staff, receives a $500 award. In addition the Big Vote! is an additional opportunity for all teams, both finalists and non-finalists, to garner more visibility around their idea and compete for the Big Vote! award. All teams wishing to participate in the Big Vote! submit a photo of their project along with a 150 word summary of the project on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. Attendees at the event vote for their favorites project idea, and the team with the most votes wins $500.