Higher Education Competition

The Great Competition

Join The Great Competition, a new national design and engineering challenge for undergraduates by the Design Museum, inviting submissions that respond to a live-brief on sustainable manufacturing for the 2018-19 academic year.

Submissions Closed

Submissions for The Great Competition are now closed.


The Great Competition is a new national design challenge for undergraduates for the 2018-19 academic year. It aims to promote greater industrial innovation and multi-disciplinary collaboration between design and engineering, encouraging students to develop innovative solutions to today’s most pressing social and environmental issues.

This year, undergraduate students are invited to respond to an industry-led live brief on sustainable manufacturing, inspired by the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. A judging panel of leading experts across design, engineering and related fields will select the short-listed and winning submissions. Short-listed submissions will have the opportunity to take part in a designer-led masterclass and Awards ceremony in May 2019. The winning submission will also receive a cash prize of up to £3000. The Great Competition is delivered through the generous support of The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851

Design brief

Develop and design a new product, service, system or digital tool that enables or supports sustainable manufacturing and production.

Key Dates

16 April 2019: Final registration and submission deadline at 17:00GMT.
May 2019: Judges select short-listed submissions.
30 May 2019: Final Judging and Awards Celebration and Masterclass for shortlisted students.


The Great Competition is open to any undergraduate studying design, design engineering, engineering or any related course or discipline anywhere in the United Kingdom. Entries will be accepted from both individuals and teams. Entries do not have to be developed expressly in response to The Great Competition brief, and may be current coursework, but must be the original work of the entrant(s).

Booking an Outreach Visit

To help support students in developing their response to this year’s brief, the Design Museum is offering free outreach presentations and information sessions to higher education institutions in the UK.

Click here to book a visit to your university or, for more information, please contact thegreatcompetition@designmuseum.org.

Competition Supporter

The Great Competition is generously supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

The museum is delighted to be collaborating with the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to offer undergraduates this exciting opportunity to: collaborate with peers and professionals; to deepen their understanding of design thinking and to see their achievements recognised through this prestigious new competition. The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 is a grant-making educational trust, awarding in the region of £4million per year towards Fellowships, Scholarships and Special Awards, for advanced study and research in science, engineering, the built environment and design.

For further details regarding the work of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 please follow this link https://www.royalcommission1851.org/

Contact Us

If you have any questions about The Great Competition or would like to find out more, please email us on: thegreatcompetition@designmuseum.org.

The Judges

Sir Christopher Frayling

Sir Christopher Frayling is a historian, critic, and award-winning broadcaster. The author of over 25 books on art, design and culture, he was Rector and Professor of Cultural History at the Royal College of Art. From 2003 to 2010, he was chair of Arts Council England. He was a Trustee of the Design Museum and is a Trustee of the V&A. He was knighted in 2001.

Dr. Joanna Kennedy OBE

Dr. Joanna Kennedy is a chartered civil engineer and for many years a Director of Arup. She is currently a Non-Executive Director of Native Land and the ERA Foundation, as well as a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. Joanna was awarded an OBE in 1995 for services to consulting engineering and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1997.

Chris Wise

Chris Wise is Director at Expedition Engineering and recognised as one of the most inventive structural engineers of his generation. He worked with Ove Arup and Partners from 1979 until 1999. Wise was the first Professor of Creative Design at Imperial College. Since 2003 he has been a Trustee of the Design Council.

Professor Rachel Cooper OBE

Rachel Cooper OBE is Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University. She is Director of ImaginationLancaster, an open design-led research centre, and also Chair of Lancaster institute for the Contemporary Arts. She is also series editor of the Routledge series Design for Social Responsibility.

Seetal Solanki

Seetal Solanki is a materials designer, researcher and author of ‘Why Materials Matter’. She is the Founder and Director of materials research design studio Ma-tt-er, which has collaborated with prominent firms and organisations such as the British Council, Hyundai and NIKE. In 2017 she began teaching at the Royal College of Art, London.