Challenge partner

Bring forward a sustainability challenge and collaborate with young talented students of diverse background from around the world in a facilitated innovation journey. 


When you and your organisation become challenge partners, you commit to follow the initiative and provide support to the student teams working to solve your challenge. Your primary commitment is providing time from relevant colleagues, in addition to minimum one sponsorship of 1.500€ that will support initial prototyping and acceleration activities by selected team(s) working on your challenge.


Estimated time commitment:
  • Creating a challenge brief (~4 hours)
  • Participating in the Multihub kick-off on Mar 31st (~1 hour)
  • Communication about partnership during initiative (~5 hours)
  • Communication with 3-5 teams during their solution development in June (~5 hours)
  • Mentorship and feedback to 3-5 teams on their concepts in June (min. 12-20 hours)
  • (recommended): Attending reception for all teams at DTU Skylab June 29th (~4 hours)
  • (recommended): Attending pitch session at the UIA Congress in July (~3 hours)


Challenge brief

The challenge brief is the starting point for the students on their journey towards a solution proposal. The challenge has to relate to one or more of the UIA Congress themes. The challenge brief is a two-page document which is prepared in collaboration with DTU Skylab. Read more about detailing a challenge brief further down on the page. The challenges will be announced in March 2023.

In addition to the challenge brief, you and your organisation will have to sign a collaboration agreement with DTU Skylab.


Your challenge will be matched with 3-5 student teams from universities in Korea, India, Kenya, Denmark and Mexico. Students from all university levels and majors can apply for the program, however in the past, the majority have been engineering masters students. The students will primarily work on the challenge during a full time 3-week innovation sprint, June 1st to 22nd. Some student teams will start engaging with the challenge earlier, depending on the semester structure and context of their local university. However, your engagement with the student is not required until in June.

In addition there will be a Challenge Owner onboarding session before the 3-week innovation sprint. Date TBD.

solution development

The solution development phase begins with a Multihub Kick-off on May 31st, where we gather all the teams locally in their country and connect each local hub, virtually into a Multihub event.

The 3-5 student teams working on your challenge, will then from the 1st to 22nd of June engage in a hybrid program to guide them on a journey from your challenge brief to a sustainable and inclusive solution. They will be situated at their local university together with a thematic supervisor. We at DTU will in addition to supervising our local students, will provide a virtual innovation program for the students. Taking them through four phases of development, from exploring and scoping the challenge to delivering a novel solution. During the program we offer, bootcamps where the students acquire innovation and entrepreneurial competencies, inspirational keynotes, mentoring sessions with us and external professionals and facilitated reflection and feedback sessions with the other teams in their home country and across the globe. Open Innovation and Universal Design will guide student work and program design.

During this period, we will set up meetings between you and the student teams, for you to support their process and give them feedback on their work. The students will also be encouraged to reach out to you when necessary in between your sessions. We therefore expect you to be available to answer questions throughout the whole development period. Each of the student projects will have a dedicated blog page with their solutions and a video pitch. 

TECH BAZAR & reception at skylab

The Next Generation Water Action participants and partners will arrive to Copenhagen in the week leading up to the congress for additional activities and preperations. On June 29th we will host a reception for the participants, bringing together those involved in the initiative before the congress begins. The event will include talks by key partners as well as an exhibition of the different student projects and start-ups involved with initiative.

It is ideal if the challenge representative can take part in this activity.


During the congress, the student teams will be provided with platforms to exhibit and showcase their projects and ideas. This is organized with the UIA 2023 secretariat and partners to allow creating the most relevant opportunities for the specific projects – matching thematic focus, development stage and partners involved. 

It is ideal if the challenge organisation can appoint a representative to take part in the jury panel for the pitch session. If the challenge organisation is present with a stand at the congress, do we also ask that the student teams working on your challenge, be allowed time slots to exhibit their solution and your collaboration at the stand.

further acceleration

This stage is fully optional, however we do encourage that you consider on individual basis with the student teams if you and your organisation want to continue your collaboration. This might, but is not limited to, continuing to provide mentorship to the team, providing them with further financial support, collaborating on technology development or recruiting them into your organisation.

what does a challenge look like?

The challenge brief is the starting point of the students development journey, and it is important that it sets them off in a good direction. The challenge brief includes a slide which shortly describes the challenge and a two-page document further detailing if. Both of these are to be created in collaboration with DTU Skylab. Below you will find more information of what makes a good challenge brief and templates.


An open-ended challenge defines the scope of the challenge but not the outcome. It is important not to point towards a specific idea to be developed but to rather describe the challenge to be explored. This allows the students to come up with a variety of different solutions.


A broad challenge allows the students to identify a sub-problem relevant to their competencies, culture and context. A solution can become too broad, leaving the students lost without a direction. Dont´s worry, we will guide you on how to write!

Congress themes

The congress evolve around 6 themes linked to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. We as that your challenge link to one or several of the first 4 themes. “Design for inclusivity” and “Design for partnerships of change” will be thematic focus areas that we will integrate, challenge and support all students teams in working with, as part of their solutions. 

An image showing how the 17 un sustainable development goals fit into the 6 congress themes, climate adaptation, rethinking resources, resilient communities, health, inclusivity and partherships for change.

General tips

Do not use theme-specific language. The students working on your challenge will come from various backgrounds, and using everyday language allows them to understand your challenge more easily.

Provide general background reads & links.  This aids the students in understanding your challenge and gets them going in their exploration.

Be passionate, impact drive & push the students to be bold. We will motivate the students to develop sustainable and inclusive solutions to your challenges. It helps if the challenge is also framed to do so.

Be open and expect the students to challenge the challenge. The students are not a team of consultants there to solve your problems how you want them solved. This is an open challenge competition and the students are encouraged to challenge the brief and to develop a solution unique to their educational, cultural and contextual background. 

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