Competitions and Projects

Header Image, Finances and Funding

Berkeley Big Ideas Contest

  • Undergraduates, Master’s and PhD Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, Professional Students
  • $5,000 - $20,000
  • Deadline: November 20, 2020

Big Ideas is an annual contest aimed at providing funding, support, and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams of students who have innovative and high-impact projects aimed at solving problems that matter to this generation.  Students who compete in Big Ideas have often never entered an innovation contest or written a real-world proposal. Students are given support at the very early stages of developing their ideas to help turn them into action.  It involves a year-long process that includes training and mentoring to help students transform their creative ideas into concrete, feasible, and scalable projects.

The CITRIS and the Banatao Tech for Social Good Program

  • Undergraduates, Master’s and PhD Students, Postdoctoral Scholars
  • $500 - $5,000
  • Deadline: February

The Tech for Social Good Program provides funding for pilot projects that promote social good by supporting healthy, sustainable, prosperous, and equitable livelihoods within underserved communities in the United States and abroad. Projects must support collaboration between students across diverse disciplines, advance technological innovation, and foster engagement with community or campus organizations and stakeholders.

Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Postdoctoral Scholars
  • Monthly research fellowship
  • Deadline: Anytime

The Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers is designed for individuals within four years of completion of their doctorate and at the beginning of their academic career. The fellowship provides funding for the implementation of a long-term research project in Germany. Applicants choose their own topic of research and their academic host.

L’Oréal Brandstorm Case Competition

  • Undergraduates, Master’s Students
  • 3-month intrapreneurship at the worlds’ largest start up campus in Paris and attendance to the One Young World Summit
  • Deadline: February

The L’Oreal Brandstorm Case Competition is a competition for students from all majors and years to showcase their talents in revolutionizing the beauty industry. This year’s challenge is to create an innovation that reduces or eliminates the use of plastic in the beauty industry. Teams develop and submit pitches, and finalists will receive all-expense-paid trips to the USA National Finals in New York City and the Global Finals in Paris, France.

Merck 2020 Research Challenges

  • Undergraduate, Master’s, PhD, and Professional Students; Postdoctoral Scholars
  • Prizes up to $10,000
  • Deadline: August

Enter a competition as an individual or team to address challenges posed in one of the following four subject areas: compound synthesis, high-k dielectric materials, publication impact, or laboratory connectivity.

MIT Solve 2020 Global Challenges

  • Undergraduate, Master’s, PhD, and Professional Students; Postdoctoral Scholars
  • $1.5 million available in funding
  • Deadline: June

The MIT Solve 2020 Global Challenges are an initiative providing funding for innovative solutions to challenges related to health security & pandemics, good jobs & inclusive entrepreneurship, learning for girls & women, sustainable food systems, and maternal & newborn health. 

Reboot the Ocean

  • Undergraduate, Master’s, PhD, and Professional Students; Postdoctoral Scholars
  • Opportunity to present ideas on SAP Purpose Network LIVE and take part in upcoming UN Ocean Conference
  • Deadline: May

Reboot the Ocean is an initiative to identify new and innovative solutions that address ocean-related challenges such as ending waste entering the oceans, harnessing ocean energy, mapping the oceans, achieving zero-emission shipping, and ensuring that seafood is sustainably sourced.

U21 PwC Innovation Challenge

  • Master’s Students, PhD Students
  • First place: all-expenses-paid 7-day trip to Dubai; Runner-up prizes: career development coaching; All entrants: access to online training
  • Deadline: February

The U21 PwC Innovation Challenge is a competition where graduate students submit 3-minute video entries to address a question posed by globally-focused organizations. There are multiple steps to entering the competition which include registering for the competition and identify a university contact person.

U21 Three Minute Thesis Competition

  • PhD Students
  • 1st place: $2,500; Highly commended: $500; People’s Choice: $1,000
  • Deadline: September

The U21 Three Minute Thesis Competition provides research students with the opportunity to develop academic, presentation, and research communication skills by explaining their research to an intelligent but non-specialist audience.  Local competitions challenge students to present face-to-face, and the virtual final will hone skills associated with being filmed for an international audience.

UC Davis Big Bang! Business Competition

  • Undergraduates, Master’s and PhD Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, Professional Students
  • Up to $20,000
  • Deadline: Runs October through May

The UC Davis Big Bang! Business Competition provides a forum for UC Davis and the broader community to collaborate, develop, and test business visions and plans. The competition offers resources for team formation, education, mentorship, and networking for aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs.

UC Davis Green Initiative Fund

  • Undergraduates, Master’s and PhD Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, Professional Students
  • Between $100,000 and $200,000 awarded to multiple projects
  • Deadlines: Vary

The Green Initiative Fund offers students and scholars the opportunity to develop and launch innovative sustainability projects on campus and the immediate region. Funds are for projects that positively impact students through increasing educational opportunities, promoting environmental awareness, engaging in sustainability research, advocating for climate and environmental justice, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy and water efficiency, limiting the amount of waste created on campus, and encouraging healthier, more planet-friendly lifestyles. Grant proposals are accepted three times a year.

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