11 worthwhile competitions to spend your free time on

University is a time to try new things and challenge oneself. The best part is that opportunities for you to do so abound—if you seize them. One of them is to participate in student competitions—or any competition that tickles your fancy! Competitions offer you ways to broaden your skills by presenting you a challenge/brief revolving around real-world issues that need solving, or challenges that exercise your creativity.

Whether you win or not, you’ll still walk away with an increase in knowledge and experience (and boost in resume & portfolio), which is a pretty good deal! What’s more, there are competitions that require little to no registration fee, some of which Digital Senior have carefully compiled in the list for you below:

Art Competitions

Organized by: The Welrformat Association

The internationally recognised Weltformat Graphic Design Festival will be held in Lucerne for the 13th year running, and this year’s Newcomer Award theme is a particularly relatable one! It’s ‘Representing Generation Z’, 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 1 August (2021’s competition).

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 provided by Grilli Type, an independent Swiss type foundry.

Open to: Anyone under the age of 27

Design Competitions

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 personal care. The 2021 competition and theme have yet to be announced.

Deadline: 15 June (2020)

Prizes: Universities and Designers category: 1st place = EUR 2,000 (SGD 3,224), 2nd place = EUR 1,200 (SGD 1934), 3rd place = EUR 800 (SGD 1,290), other special prizes

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 “Connections”, where student photographers submit five to ten images taken in 2021. 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: 30 Nov (2021)

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 from 18 to 30 years old undertaking a full-time photography programme taught at the higher education level.

Architecture Competitions

Architecture Competitions

Organized by: Standout Archi Ltd

The competition has been categorised into the Architecture Awards, the Interior Design Awards and the Urban Design Awards. You can take part solo or in teams of 2-5, and can submit personal, university or graduation projects as long as they are unbuilt. Do note that there is a registration fee of 35-55 euros. Sub-categories for the Architecture Awards are as follows: 

  • Commercial
  • Skyscrapers
  • Transportation
  • Cultural
  • Monument
  • Mixed Use
  • Industrial
  • Healthcare
  • Educational
  • Recreational
  • Residential

Deadline: 18 August for late registration; early bird round has commenced (2021). Submissions must be uploaded onto the  Standout Archi website. Deliverables include a project brief, as well as two or four landscape or portrait posters (dependent on category).

Prizes: 1st place in each sub-category =  €500 (SGD 806), all participants will receive certificates. Six out of 18 sub-category winners will have the chance to obtain 2-6 month-long internships in Turkey, Ukraine, Spain, Lebanon or Greece.

Open to: Undergraduates, postgraduates, and recent graduates (2017 and after) that have majored in Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture or Interior Design

*Also has interior design category

Organized by: Nippon Paint Singapore

The AYDA looks for designs that are bold, innovative, and are 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. 2021’s theme is “Amplifying Empathy through Design”.

Deadline: Dec (2021)

Prizes: Gold Award (Internship opportunities + SGD 1,500), Silver Award (Internship opportunities + SGD 1,000), Bronze Award (SGD 500), Special Awards (SGD 300 each). Certificates of Achievement are awarded to the Gold, Silver and Bronze award winners. The national gold winner will also get to represent Singapore in the Architectural/Interior Design category at the upcoming Asia Young Designer Awards Summit 2021/2022 in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Open to: Design students enrolled in tertiary education institutions

Writing Competitions

Writing Competitions

Organized by: BBC in partnership with the British Council. 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: 31 January (2020)

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 (SGD 4,685) 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

Organized by: National Arts Council Singapore (NAC)

Organised since 1993, the Golden Point Award has been a platform to discover new creative writing talents in the four national languages (English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil) in both the short story and poetry categories. Previous award winners include Joshua Ip (Sonnets from the Singlish) and Tania De Rozario (And The Walls Come Crumbling Down).

Deadline: July (2021)

Prizes: 1st prize = SGD 7,000 with certificate and a trophy.  2nd prize = SGD 5,000 with certificate, 3rd prize = SGD 3,000 with certificate

Open to: No age limit, open to Singaporeans and PRs

IT Competitions

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 in order to help talented students’ kick-start their careers through the brainstorming and coming-up of solutions to problems faced by the professional construction industry—that can be helped by IT, of course.

Deadline: 21 Dec 2020 (2021)

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

Open to: Undergraduate and postgraduate students of any disciplines worldwide

Entrepreneurship CompetitionsEntrepreneurship Competitions

Organized by: Entrepreneur’s Organization

If you’re a student entrepreneur with an innovative business, and 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: 2021’s run is over, do await 2022’s!

Prizes: Prizes vary by location. At the Global Finals: 1st prize = USD 25,000 (SGD 33,085) and a paid travel/expenses trip to the GSEA Finals, 2nd prize = USD 10,000 (SGD13, 234), 3rd prize = USD 5,000 (SGD 6,617).

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

Organized by: Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre

Ideasinc is more than a competition: it’s a start-up accelerator programme that first took flight as a competition for NTU students. Submit your ideas and the Top 60 teams will go through workshops/training/idea refining before pitching again; only 10 will remain to go on to pitch to investors. If you’ve had an idea brewing in your head for a while, try Ideasinc! Best of luck.

Deadline: July (2020’s submission), await 2021’s details!

Prizes: Various cash awards, grant opportunities, equity funding opportunities

Open to: 18-year-olds and above who are first-time entrepreneurs, in teams of three. At least one member must be a Singaporean or Permanent Resident.

Other Competitions

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. Due to the current situation, the competition offers both a virtual programme/league and on-track events. In 2020, two teams from Temasek Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University received the Technical Innovation Award and Vehicle Design Award respectively.

Deadline: Registration for the 2021 round has closed, but do keep an eye out for 2022!

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

Open to: Students 16 and above who are 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


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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