UR Innovation Challenge: Building Sustainable Futures

Event Date: 
Monday, July 26, 2021 - 9:00am to Monday, August 9, 2021 - 9:00am
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We are excited to announce the third iteration of the virtual University of Rochester Innovation Challenge (previously known as the COVID-19 Challenge.) 

The challenge is open to all UR students, both graduate and undergraduate.
This year’s innovation challenge is inspired by the efforts put forth by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015), which recognizes that efforts toward prosperity-for-all goes hand-in-hand with strategies to improve health and education, poverty, equity, all while tackling climate change.

Together, we are encouraged to ask questions about what it means to re-imagine and co-create sustainable, empowering solutions for our communities.


REGISTRATION DEADLINE: July 21 at 11:59 pm 
Over the course of two weeks, the University of Rochester students will work in teams to develop solutions for their assigned community partner. Each of our community partners will provide a problem statement that will be addressed by you, the student teams, through collaboration, problem-solving, and innovation.
The challenge is mostly asynchronous and can be completed on a flexible schedule that allows you to work around work or internship schedules. 
Over the course of the challenge, you will attend workshops and be provided with tools, mentorship, and one-on-one time with your community partner to develop the best solution. At the end of the challenge you will pitch your solutions and prototypes to a panel of judges.

1st place: $1,500
2nd place: $1,000
3rd place: $500

Additional benefits:
  • Earn a Certificate in Community Innovation.
  • Certain workshops will count towards the competition of the Medallion Program.
  • The challenge can be used as a part of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program to fulfill entrepreneurship or service requirements.
  • Aside from the support you are giving the community partners, this is a great opportunity to build relationships with them that could eventually lead to internship and mentorship opportunities.
  • Build skills in design-work, design thinking, problem-solving, marketing etc and meet new potential collaborators and friends!

Timeline: all events are via Zoom (EDT) with optional in-person events/meetings per your individual team's needs and availability. Any offerings with in-person components will be communicated ahead of time.
  • July 26th, time TBA- mandatory - Kick-off! topic TBA
  • August 6th, time TBA- mandatory - Pitch Workshop
  • August 9th, time TBA - mandatory - Final presentations

*Full workshop schedule TBA. Please be aware there could be minor changes to this schedule.


REGISTRATION DEADLINE: July 21 at 11:59 pm 
Team Formation:
You are encouraged to apply as a team (maximum of 4 people per team). However, we welcome you to register as an individual, in which case we will assist you in the matching process and place you on a team. We look forward to seeing you at the challenge!

  • Teams may contain between 2 (minimum) and 4 (maximum) team members.
  • Your team’s community partner and challenge question will be emailed to you at 9 am EST on July 26th, 2021.
  • By submitting a solution, participants agree to all of the submission requirements, including confidentiality, selection, and reviewing process.
  • Community members will have ownership and access to all ideas at the end of the challenge, including those that weren’t selected.
  • You may use any outside expertise to create your solution. However, we ask that you acknowledge your sources in your final presentation.
  • Teams are expected to abide by the University’s Code of Conduct at all times.
  • The ideas generated as the original team are not proprietary to that original team and can be used by either or both of the splitting teams.
  • It is up to the organizers to mediate any disputes that arise in accordance with copyright laws as well as any expectations for licensing/attribution that were established/included in the challenge.
For questions, contact the organizing team at urinnovationchallenge21@gmail.com