16 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 Analytics Competitions

Organized by:  NUS Business School (NUS Masters of Science in Business Analytics) and Huawei Singapore

This challenge was previously open to only NUS students but is now open to all tertiary education students. It requires participants to form groups of four to six to build a stock trading model based on historical transaction data that allows users to “buy low, sell high” at the best timing. Teams will use Huawei’s ModelArts AI development platform for the challenge.

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

Deadline: 27 Feb (2023, for registration)

Prizes: SGD10,000 cash prize for Grand Winner, SGD5,000 and SGD3,000 cash prizes for second and third-placing teams respectively

Open to: Students from all universities and polytechnics in Singapore

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 1 August (2021’s competition). Details for 2023’s competition have yet to be released.

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: Cash prize, chance for artwork to be exhibited at the final exhibition at Venice

Deadline: 9 March (2023)

Open to: All artists

Design Competitions

Organized by: Alternative Future Limited 

The International Visual Identity Awards (IVIA) is an independent global graphic design competition currently in its 10th year. You will have to submit a logo and examples of its application across different items as part of a brand’s visual identity system.

The competition has 21 categories in total, ranging from healthcare to energy/utilities. The student category allows you to submit concept or speculative work. Do note that this competition has an entry fee.

Deadline: 30 March (2023)

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

Open to: Full-time students in a recognised educational institution

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 is grander and larger, with 2 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.

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 “In a Changing World”, where student photographers submit five to ten images taken in 2023 shot on any device and taken 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: 2023’s competition has closed; keep an eye out for 2024’s!

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

Asia Young Designer Award (AYDA)*

* Also has Interior Design Category 

Organized by: Nippon Paint Singapore

The 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. 2022’s theme was “Converge: Pushing the Reset Button”.

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

Deadline: To be announced: the AYDA International Awards will be held around June/July 2023

Prizes (2022’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 (SGD 1312)
    • 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)

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 4,001) 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 (€12–€18) for each. There is no restriction on style or theme, but all stories must be written in English. 

Deadline: 31 August (2023)

Prizes: €1,000 cash prize and 1-year Anthology subscription, plus a chance to have 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.

Deadline: 17 February (2023)

Prizes: 1st place = paid study trip, 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 will be announced within 10 days of the challenge ending.

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

Deadline: 9 March (2023)

Prizes: MacBook Pro for each member of the Winning Team, Apple Watch for each member of the runner-up team, Apple Air Pods for each member of the second runner-up team

Open to: Students and professional coders aged 16 and older

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 2022-2023 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

This challenge seeks to crowdsource a new and innovative chemical detection method for Hydrazine/MMH, a highly toxic and dangerous substance critical for flight safety. It is conducted in 3 phases, namely conceptualisation, prototyping and demonstrations. Phase 2 and 3 are only open to Phase 1 winners (5 in total).

Organized by: Floor23 Digital, in collaboration with NASA Tournament Lab

You can participate as an individual or as part of a team.

Deadline: March 14 (2023)

Prizes: A prize pool of $47,000 for successful solutions, as well opportunity for winners to meet with NASA’s Materials & Components Team to share their solutions. There are prizes for each phase.

Open to: All

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: 21 April (2023)

Prizes: USD150, USD100 and USD50 cash prizes for the Top 3 winners respectively

Open to: High school and university students

Other Competitions

Organized by:

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.

Deadline: 1 June (2023)


  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.

Deadline: Registration for the 2023 round has closed, but keep an eye out for 2024’s!

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. Members of the same team must be from the same educational institution


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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