21 worthwhile competitions for students to spend your free time on

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University is a time to try new things and challenge oneself. The best part is that opportunities to do so abound—. One is participating in competitions for students—or any that tickles your fancy! These offer ways to broaden your skills by presenting you with a challenge/brief revolving around real-world issues that need solving or challenges that exercise creativity.

Whether you win or not, you’ll still walk away with an increase in knowledge and experience (and a boost in resume & portfolio), which is a pretty good deal! What’s more, some competitions require little to no registration fee, some of which Digital Senior have carefully compiled in the list for you below. Clicking on the competition headings will take you to their respective sites!

Business Related Competitions

Organized by: NUS Business School (NUS Masters of Science in Business Analytics) and NCS (an information technology company with headquarters based in Singapore)

Interested in city navigation? This year’s challenge (“Making Travel a Breeze with TransportGPT”) is open to all tertiary education students who are keen to work with generative AI — specifically Large Language Models (LLM)! Participants are to form groups of four to six and prototype a system that adopts LLMs to interpret, predict, and respond to dynamic road traffic conditions.

The top 8 teams will receive coaching and mentoring before proceeding to the finals.

Deadline: 1 Mar (2024, for registration)

Prizes: SGD5,000 cash prize for Grand Winner, SGD3,000 and SGD1,000 cash prizes for second and third-placing teams respectively

Open to: Students from all universities and polytechnics in Singapore

Established in 1998 to promote the importance of fundamental analysis and research among university students, the CFA Institute Challenge offers hands-on mentoring and experience in analyzing and presenting an investment recommendation on a publicly traded company.

University teams consisting of 3 to 5 students conduct in-depth research on the selected company, before developing an investment recommendation to either buy, hold, or sell shares in the company. The top teams from each region advance to the regional finals where they present and defend their recommendations to a panel of investment professionals. The regional finalists then compete at the global finals for the chance to win cash prizes and internship opportunities.

Deadline: Check out your country or region’s deadlines

Prizes: Varies depending on the competition stage. Winners of the Global Challenge stand to win a cash prize for their university

Open to: Undergraduate or graduate students

Entrepreneurship Competitions

This competition is modelled after the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. Participants must enter with STEM-related projects in the ideation/prototype stage, and have received less than an overall funding of $50K.

Deadline: The 2024 round has yet to be announced

Prizes: Previous finalists won cash prizes, and 2023’s winning team had the opportunity to dvance to the Asia Technology Entrepreneurship Conference (ATEC) competition

Open to: NUS, NTU, SUTD and SMU students (in teams of 2–4)

The Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition was founded in 2003 by NUS Business School to encourage students to develop innovative and commercially viable business ideas that can make a positive impact on society.

Held biannually, teams of students from top universities submit business plans outlining their business ideas and growth strategies. Shortlisted teams are then invited to Singapore to present their plans to a panel of judges comprising investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Winners receive cash prizes and seed funding to help them launch their businesses.

To date, the competition has received over 2,000 business plans from more than 70 countries.

Deadline: 2024’s has yet to be released

Prizes: Various cash prizes

Open to: Startups or teams with a founding member or founder who is a current student or recent alumni of less than five years

Art Competitions

Organized by: The Welrformat Association

The internationally recognised Weltformat Graphic Design Festival will be held in Lucerne for the 15th year and will host its annual Newcomer Award. The theme will be revealed later, and participants are welcome to submit posters depicting personal, social or political issues.

Deadline: Upload entries (3 maximum) to the festival’s community area by August (2023’s competition). Details for 2024’s competition have yet to be released, but the festival will take place from 5–13 October 2024.

Prizes: The winning poster will be shown at 500 locations throughout Switzerland after the exhibition, while the twenty best posters will be presented in an exhibition. There will also be audience voting; the poster creator with the most-voted poster will receive a voucher from Grilli Type, an independent Swiss-type foundry.

Open to: Anyone under 30

Organized by: MALAMEGI company

This is a contest for contemporary art organized by an artistic furniture accessories company, welcoming works in drawing, painting, sculpture, photograph, graphic, mixed media and video formats. You can submit up to 6 artworks (submission fee applies).

Prizes: Various prizes, including a chance for artwork (12 total) to be exhibited at the final exhibition at Venice, an artwork acquisition prize (€ 2000,00 maximum), an artistic research prize (€ 1000,00) and a monographic book prize

Deadline: 7 March (2024)

Open to: All artists

Design Competitions

The Taiwan International Student Design Competition is organised by the Taiwan Design Center, a non-profit organization focused on promoting design education and culture in Taiwan. It was first launched in 2009 to provide an opportunity for student designers from around the world to showcase their talents and gain international exposure and has attracted entries from over 60 countries to date.

The competition covers various design disciplines, including Product Design, Visual Design, and Digital Animation. Entry is free, and you can participate as an individual or as part of a team.

Deadline: 2024’s competition is not open yet. Based on 2023’s dates, the submission period is from May to July

Prizes: Cash prizes ranging between NT$10,000–$400,000 depending on the award won.

Open to: Students

The Red Dot Design Prize is one of the largest design competitions in the world, recognising excellence in product design and communication design. Winning a Red Dot award is considered one of the most prestigious distinctions a design professional can receive. Red Dot winners serve as benchmarks for good design and influence trends in the design industry, and you might have purchased products with the Red Dot Label proudly emblazoned on their packaging.

This year, students can submit their entries for the inaugural Red Dot: Peter Zec Prize, under the Red Dot Design Concept competition.

Deadline: Currently accepting submissions. Early submission closes on 13 March, and late submission closes on 24 April

Prizes: SGD 10,000

Open to: Current and former design students under the age of 30

A nonprofit organisation based in LA, PAVE Global organises an annual student design competition with briefs revolving around their sponsors. 2024’s sponsor is Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the USA. Participants are to “evolve the in-store customer experience to exceed Gen-Z expectations of what it means to discover at Ulta Beauty”.

Submission deadline: 21 October (2024). Pre-registration is required

Prizes: USD 5,000 USD per concept for top 3 concepts, USD 1,000 USD to each of the winning students’ schools. Students will also receive an invitation to attend the PAVE Gala in New York City (travel expenses paid)

Open to: Current undergraduate and graduate-level college students involved in retail planning, visual merchandising, interior design/architecture, branding, graphic design, UX/UI design, industrial design, and similar programs. You can participate as an individual or in a team of two.

Organized by: Alternative Future Limited 

The International Visual Identity Awards (IVIA) is an independent global graphic design competition currently in its 11th year. You must submit a logo and examples of how it is applied across different items as part of a brand’s visual identity system.

The competition has 20 categories in total, ranging from entertainment to real estate. Do note that this competition has an entry fee (£150 with VAT where applicable). Multiple submissions are allowed but must be paid for separately. While there was previously a student category that allowed you to submit concept or speculative work, it is not available this year.

Deadline: 30 March (2024)

Prizes: Press release coverage circulated to all the major marketing and design media worldwide and a feature on the IVIA website

Open to: All

Organized by: CZECHDESIGN.CZ (since 2009)

This long-standing competition (over 20 years old) calls for innovative and functional models of paper packaging centred around specific themes every year. Truly successful designs stand the opportunity to have their designs realized and used commercially. Past themes include packaging for tea and sweets, with last year’s revolving around food.

The 2023 competition was grander and larger, with two rounds. The theme is “Thirsty for Packaging, ” and young designers aged 15 and above will compete in Round 1 before facing off against top designers’ submissions in Round 2.

2024’s has yet to be announced, so keep an eye out for it!

Deadline: 31 March (2023)

Prizes: 1st place = Up to EUR 5,000 (SGD 7,143), 2nd place = EUR 3,000 (SGD 4,286), 3rd place = EUR 2,000 (SGD 2,857), other special prizes such as a paid internship at Model Group

Open to: High school (includes college) students, university students, designers

Photography Competitions

Photography Competitions

Organized by: World Photography Organisation

This competition calls for entries revolving around the theme “Home”. Student photographers submit five to ten images taken in 2023, shot on any device and in any style. The Student Photographer of the Year will win himself/herself and his/her university a combined total of €30,000 (SGD 48,374) in Sony digital imaging equipment. You can also choose to enter the Open Competition.

Deadline: The 2024 submission stage has closed, and results will be revealed in March/April; keep an eye out for 2025! The submission round should open around mid-2024.

Prizes: Winners (up to ten photographers) will receive a range of prizes, which includes Sony digital imaging equipment, trophies, and global press exposure.

Open to: Anyone aged 18 to 30 undertaking a full-time photography programme taught at the higher education level.

Architecture Competitions

Architecture Competitions

AYDA Awards (AYDA)*

* Also has Interior Design Category 

Organized by: Nippon Paint Singapore

Formerly known as the Asia Young Designer Awards, AYDA looks for designs that are bold, innovative, and forward/future-looking. Award participants have to use Nippon Paint’s colours and products in their designs and submit a comprehensive presentation board including details such as the project’s design statement, existing site photos if applicable and perspectives of the project in 3D. 2023’s theme was “Converge: Championing Purposeful Designs”.

The competition’s participants hail from different parts of Asia, and it has received over 41,000 entries to date.

Deadline: To be announced for 2024’s edition: the AYDA International Awards will be held around June/July 2024

Prizes (2023’s for reference):

  • International Grand Winner:
    • Chance to attend a three-week, all-expenses-paid Design Discovery Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, U.S.A.
    • Nippon Paint Colour Award: Cash prize of USD1,000
    • Best Sustainable Design: Cash prize of USD1,000
    • Best Design Impact: Cash prize of USD1,000
  • National Winners
    • Gold Award (SGD 1,500)
    • Silver Award (SGD 1,000)
    • Bronze Award (SGD 500)
    • Special Awards (SGD 300 each).

Open to: Design students enrolled in tertiary education institutions

Writing Competitions

Writing Competitions

Organized by: BBC in partnership with the British Council. The competition is co-produced with The Open University.

Writing stories for reading and writing stories for hearing challenge you in different ways; with the latter, you can play with audio effects and silences/pace for dramatic effects. If you’re daring enough to give it a gander—there have been winners with no radio playwriting experience—submit a 53-minute play to the BBC and stand to hear it aired live on their channel! Fantastic opportunity, if I do say so myself.

Deadline: 12 February (2023). The 2024 competition has not opened/called for entries yet.

Prizes: 2 winners for 1st prize: one for persons with English as a first language and one for persons with English as a second language. 1st prize = £2500 sterling  and a trip to London (with airfare and accommodation for the winner) to see the play being recorded and attend a prize-giving ceremony. Special prize (Georgi Markov prize) for script with the most potential = 2 weeks mentorship with BBC Radio Drama as well as BBC World Service.

Open to: Non-UK residents aged 18 and above

IT Competitions

Organized by: Anthology magazine

Part of the Anthology Creative Awards, which also has poetry, photography and cover art competitions, the short story competition invites you to submit an original and unpublished piece not more than 1,500 words long. Multiple entries are allowed, but you will have to pay separate entry fees (€15–€18) for each. There is no restriction on style or theme, but all stories must be written in English. 

Deadline: 31 July (2024)

Prizes: €1,000 cash prize, plus a chance to have the winning piece published in a future issue of the magazine (winner). The runner-up and second runner-up receive a €250 and €150 cash prize respectively

Open to: All, no age limit

IT Competitions

Organized by: HITLI

A global company designing and making leading-edge technologies for the professional construction industry, HITLI runs its IT competition annually to help talented students kick-start their careers through brainstorming and coming up with solutions to problems faced by the professional construction industry—that can be helped by IT, of course. 2024’s theme revolves around supercharging the workforce with innovative technology.

Deadline for submission: 23 Feb (2024)

Prizes: 1st place = paid study trip to Buchs – Switzerland; 2nd and 3rd place = Hitli power tool; all finalists = fast-track application process for a paid internship with Hitli

Open to: Undergraduate and postgraduate students of any discipline worldwide

Entrepreneurship Competitions

Organized by: Reply 

The Reply Code Challenge (Standard) is an online 4-hour-long team-based programming competition. Entry is free. In groups of 2 to 4, you will work together to solve a problem statement; winners are announced within 10 days of the challenge ending.

The competition also has a University Students League. Your team’s final score will be added to the University Leaderboard, and the university with the most points may win a Reply Arcade Game cabinet or a financial donation to support an educational or research project! Alumni will also have a chance to contribute to this Leaderboard.

Past challenges have been made available for you to train yourself leading to the competition!

Deadline: 21 March (2024)

Prizes: (Likely) A MacBook for each member of the Winning Team

Open to: Students and professional coders aged 16 and older. There is also a Teen edition for those aged 14–19.

Entrepreneurship Competitions

Organized by: Entrepreneur’s Organization

If you’re a student entrepreneur with an innovative business and are in need of some mentorship/connections, the GSEA is for you. Started in 1998 in the USA, the GSEA has since seen hundreds of applications from all around the world.

Deadline: The 2024 Global Finals run is currently underway

Prizes (2022-2023): Prizes vary by location. At the Global Finals: 1st prize = USD 50,000 (SGD 65,631) and a paid travel/expenses trip to the GSEA Finals, 2nd prize = USD 25,000 (SGD 32,615), Total cash prizes amount to US$100,000

Open to: Part-time or full-time undergrad/grad students under 30 years of age who own, are the founders or controlling shareholders of their company, and are mainly responsible for its operation. The company must have been in operation for six consecutive months.

Science Competitions

Organized by: Edu.Harbour

First held in 2019, the competition asks you to submit solutions to 5 astronomy problems and score 20 points to proceed to the pre-final round. While entry for the qualification round is free, you will have to pay 8 EUR to participate in the pre-final.

All participants will receive a participation certificate.

Deadline: 26 April (2024). Competition opens mid-Feb

Prizes: USD150, USD100 and USD50 cash prizes for the Top 3 winners respectively. Outstanding participants from each country receive a special national award.

Open to: High school and university students

Other Competitions

Organized by: The Hardy Group

Launched in 2006, the Radical Innovation Award focuses on the hospitality and design industry. Participants need to submit concepts or ideas that provide consumers new experiences or offer the field’s players revenue growth opportunities or operating cost-saving opportunities.

The student categories do not require an entry fee and up to 3 entries are accepted. There are two categories. The first, Radical Concept, is for a project that is in the early phase of the design process. The second, Radical Product Concept, is for a project in its early design phase.

2024’s competition has yet to be announced. Do keep an eye on the competition’s website!

Deadline: 1 June (2023)

Prizes:

  1. Student Design Winner: Cash prize and the opportunity to qualify for a university assistantship (at the University of Las Vegas Nevada to their Masters of Architecture program, The University of Illinois Teaching Assistantship to their School of Architecture, or NYU for a graduate degree from the NYUSPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality)
  2. Student Product Design Concept Winner/Student Prototype Product Winner: Cash prize and the opportunity to attend Blackfire Innovation

Open to: University students

Organized by: Shell

An international competition/student engineering programme, Shell Eco-marathon brings together student teams to design a Prototype or an Urban Concept car and compete on the tracks. While the competition’s regional events have resumed after a pause due to the pandemic, there is an Autonomous Programming Competition held virtually. In 2020, two teams from Temasek Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University received the Technical Innovation Award and Vehicle Design Award, respectively.

Previously, members of the same team had to be from the same educational institution. This year, the rules have changed: they can come from two different schools!

Deadline: Registration for the 2024 round has yet to open, so keep an eye out! The regional competition for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East will take place from July 2 – 7, 2024l

Prizes: Certificates will be awarded, and there will be prize money for the virtual competitions

Open to: Students 16 and above enrolled in e-universities, colleges and secondary schools preparing students for higher education degrees, vocational training certificates, professional certificates or official second-level school-leaving examinations.

competitions

This is by no means an exhaustive list! There are many competitions out there that you can find with the help of a Google Search or two, so go online and find out what you can participate in! Choose one that tickles your fancy and put it on your to-do list: by doing so, you’re already a winner for having tried. We wish you luck!

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