2022 Competition Roadmap

Your Challenge:

The global sustainability crisis requires innovative solutions that promote human flourishing without compromising the natural systems upon which we depend. For this competition, you will rise to this challenge by developing an innovative plan or solution that promotes one or more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while taking account of other relevant SDGs. In doing so, you will address a particular sustainability problem or challenge which could be at a local, regional, national, or international level anywhere in the world. Your plan or solution could be a program for a government or private entity, proposal, product or service, system, business plan, event, social media platform, app, game, law, organization, educational initiative, or something else. Your plan or solution must be presented in the form of a fact sheet.

We welcome submissions from individuals and from teams from the UIUC and from other participating universities. In 2022, participating universities include ZJU-UIUC Institute in Haining, China and the University of Pretoria. We plan to add more universities next year; if you would like your university to participate next year please be in touch with us at SSC-Chair@illinois.edu. Even this year students from any university may serve as members of teams led by students from participating universities. (Check the Discussion Board above to see if there are teams looking for members to work on a project that interests you.)

How to Enter:

The first step is to register your team (beginning August 22, 2022). As you research and develop your idea, you must seek the advice of a specialist to research and refine your concept. You will express your idea in a compelling fact sheet. Presentations by finalist teams will be evaluated by the finalist judges.

Application Cycle

RegisterSept. 19, 2022 | 11:59PM CT
Seek the Advice of a SpecialistOct. 14, 2022 | 11:59PM CT
Submit a Fact SheetNov. 21, 2022 | 11:59PM CT

Finalists Cycle

Finalists NotifiedNovember 25
Finalists prepare their presentationsNovember 26-December 2
Awards Ceremony (at the Siebel Center for Design, or virtually)December 3 | 9:00AM CT


  • Top Prize (1 winner): $2000
  • Second prize (2 winners): $1000
  • Third prize (3 winners): $500
  • An additional prize of $500 will be awarded to the finalist whose solution is deemed to be the most interdisciplinary.
  • Depending on sponsor support, other awards such as internships may be available.
  • Participants will improve their career prospects by interacting with sustainability professionals in industry, consulting firms, government, or academia.


  • Everyone who enters the competition must review, acknowledge, and agree to the competition rules.

Judging Criteria:

All entries will be evaluated in terms of the five criteria below for a maximum overall score of 60 points:

Point ValueCriteriaDescription
0-20 Novelty An original (new, fresh, innovative, ground-breaking) idea or synthesis of existing ideas into a new strategy that creatively advances one or more of the SDGs. Winning submissions will have that elusive “wow factor,” eliciting feelings of excitement and admiration! (These are projects that the judges would like to recommend to the Gates Foundation for funding!)
0-10 Feasibility A convincing case is made for implementability. Implementation might rely on, say, existing or new technology; proven or new social organizations, markets, or science.
0-10 Scalability/ReplicabilityThe idea can be scaled up and widely replicated.
0-10 Connection to SDGsThe analysis takes account of all relevant SDGs, of the ways in which they are relevant, and of the relationships among them as they pertain to the chosen sustainability problem.
0-10 Compelling CommunicationThe submission is written with clarity, is visually engaging, and is easy to follow. The submission has a powerful and compelling narrative.