Higher Education Competition

The Great Competition

The Great Competition is a new national design and engineering challenge for undergraduates by the Design Museum. For the 2018-19 academic year students were invited to submit proposals responding to a live-brief on sustainable manufacturing.


The Great Competition is a new national design challenge for undergraduates. 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 were invited to respond to an industry-led live brief on sustainable manufacturing, inspired by the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. The short-listed and winning submissions were selected by a judging panel of leading experts across design, engineering and related fields. Short-listed submissions had the opportunity to take part in a designer-led masterclass and Awards ceremony that took place Thursday 30 May 2019. The winning submissions received 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

Contact Us

If you would like to find out more about The Great Competition or you are interested in participating to future editions, please email us on: thegreatcompetition@designmuseum.org.

2018-19 Design brief

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

winning projects


School bag made from 100% Coconut waste, with intuitive features encouraging children from developing countries to engage more effectively at school. OCCO is not only combating the Education Crisis but also making use of the 9 billion coconut husks thrown away by Asia every year.

Students: Joseph James, Luke Kingham, Elisa Puccinelli, Sophie Rayment
University: London South Bank University
Course: BSc Engineering Product Design


Smart Green

An online consultancy and investment program for businesses and companies to guide them through a circular transitional process toward sustainability.

Student: Julia Olivia Lange
University: Chelsea College of Arts, UAL
Course: BA Graphic Design and Communication

Smart Green

Community Re-packets

A project aiming to save paper and clothes wastage at Chinese New Year.

Student: Meryl Lau Kee Shan
University: Hertfordshire University (Year Abroad)
Course: BA Product Design

Community Re-packets

The Judges 2018-19

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.

Masterclass 2018-19

Short-listed candidates were invited to the Design Museum on 30 May to meet the judges and to take part in a one-day masterclass, led by Simon Widmer and Anna Queralt, who are working on the circular design programme at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In this workshop, participants had the chance to learn from leading experts in the circular economy, and get a hands-on introduction to the principles of the circular design.

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/