Students will work individually or in teams of up to 5 students to undertake a research project in the field of Health & Medicine or Energy & Environment. Students may either pick a project from the Project List or come up with their own idea to pursue. The goal of this project will be to design an innovation that can potentially solve a current challenge in the field.

Innovations are to be conceptual, with a sound scientific background and can range from products or devices to treatments, techniques, or methods. Teams will need to provide scientific evidence to demonstrate how and why their innovation will work. This can either be in the form of an experimental study, or, if this is not feasible, a literature-based study in which existing research is used to justify the ideas and concepts in the innovation.

All students will work with an academic mentor in their field, whose role is to provide academic support and specialist scientific or engineering knowledge to teams working on projects in their specialty area. They are also a source of inspiration, providing insights into their own work as researchers and/or engineers and giving teams a better understanding of what it’s like to have a career in science or engineering. Past students have mentioned that working with their mentors is one of the highlights of taking part in the challenge – a testament to the time and effort that mentors invest into the challenge and the genuine bonds they form with their teams.

Students will present their innovations at the Symposium (8-9th February 2021). This is an event that we hope that everyone can share with their families, peers and teachers so feel free to invite them to come and see all the amazing ideas!


All participants will need to submit the following:
  • A full-colour A0-size poster
  • A single, static Microsoft PowerPoint slide
will be judged based on the quality of their poster, and participants
with the most scientifically sound and creative innovations will also be
invited to give a 3-minute presentation on their innovation.
Optional Categories
Students who wish to explore their innovation in more depth may also submit the following:
  • A 1000-word scientific report on the development of their innovation
  • A prototype/model

The report will consist of a literature review, which will form the background of their report, as well as a logbook containing details of the research and design processes and any experiments conducted during the study.

Students are also encouraged to make a prototype/model (this can be physical or virtual) of their innovation if appropriate and feasible. This does not need to be functional; a simple ‘pipe-cleaner’ or ‘paddle-pop stick’ model will suffice. Having a model or prototype allows for better visualisation of the scale and concept of the innovation and can be a powerful tool for identifying how and where improvements can be made.

Prizes will be available for individuals/teams with best report or prototype/model.


All documents are to be submitted online by the 17th of January 2021. A submission box will be made available closer to the submission deadline.

A Guidebook with more information on how to design an innovation and prepare submissions are provided below.


Teams will have the opportunity to showcase their innovations at the Symposium. Each team will present a poster at the student science fair held on Day 1 of the Symposium (8th Feb 2021). This is a good opportunity for students, as well as academics and industry guests, to see the range of ideas and innovations that have been developed during the Challenge.

The 40 entries with the best posters/reports will be invited to present their 3-minute pitch in front of a judging panel. 10 finalists then will be selected to pitch their project again and defend their design in an open Q&A session, after which winners will be announced.

Details on the format and structure of the presentation, as well as well as the accompanying PowerPoint slide, can be found in the Guidebook on the Resources tab.

Time Commitment

Students are expected to commit 20-25 hours on their research project. A rough breakdown of this time commitment is as follows:

  • Prior to application
    30 mins - Deciding which project to pursue
  • After application approval
    60 min - Researching core aspects of project

    120 mins - Initial contact with mentor
  • Prior to submission date
    240 mins - Reading relevant literature and summarising findings

    240 mins - Team discussion and brainstorming on innovation design and approach

    60 mins - Consulting mentor regarding approach and pros/cons of chosen design

    180 mins - Finalising design and drafting report

    90 mins - Create poster using template

    30 mins - Create the PowerPoint slide using template

    60 mins - Receiving feedback from mentor/nominee
  • Prior to Symposium
    60 mins - Refine presentation

    30 mins - Presentation rehearsal