PwC Innovation Challenge

About the Competition

U21 and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), two globally-focused organisations, have come together to offer exclusive professional development opportunities for U21's network of graduate students. This alliance supports and prepares U21 students for the world of work by allowing them to consider and respond to real workplace challenges, overseen by PwC and judges from their client companies. The format of the competition is designed to help students develop presentation and communication skills as well as fostering critical thinking and expertise. Learn more here.

Why take part?

The challenge offers students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to 'real-world' situations and reflect on their own experiences via a short three-minute video. The videos are judged by PwC and their clients, who are leaders in graduate career development.


Challenge opens: Monday February 15, 2021
Deadline for video submissions: Friday, July 2, 2021 (Please submit your video to for consideration by Friday, June 25, 2021)
Judging to take place: Tuesday, July 27 - Friday, August 20, 2021
Winners to be announced: Week of September 6, 2021

2021 Competition:

The recent Upskilling for Shared Prosperity report by the World Economic Forum and PwC makes the case for providing employees with learning and development opportunities to expand their horizons while minimizing skills gaps. The report highlights certain challenges, such as addressing the disconnect between current education programmes and the skills employers need today and in the future, but also presents the advantages of upskilling, including wider social benefits triggered by the development of specific skills that will prove beneficial for the future success of the global economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on the global economy in ways we could not have imagined. It has further exposed the inadequacies of our current economic structures and highlights a growing mismatch between people's current skills and those needed for the jobs at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The skills gap is widening and causing greater inequality in the workplace.

Based on the report and proposed call for action, suggest an initiative that can be undertaken by governments an/or businesses and/or education providers that can help improve and maintain shared and sustainable prosperity.


The competition is open to any registered graduate student in one of U21's member universities (this includes students from taught and research masters programmes, MPhils etc., and PhDs). It is the responsibility of each U21 university to check the registration status of any student that they send forward as a finalist for adjudication. Students on joint PhDs between two U21 members are eligible to apply.


The competition is now a single-round annual event. Three first prize winners will be selected; they will be awarded with a week-long expenses-paid trip to Dubai, courtesy of PwC. Note that travel will only take place when it is safe to do so and will be in accordance with global travel guidelines. Alternatively, in discussion with the winner(s), PwC will consider hosting the winner(s) at another PwC office locally (but this cannot be guaranteed). There will be 7 runners up who will receive career development coaching sessions, courtesy of the PwC Academy. All approved entrants into the U21 final will receive exclusive access to online courses provided by the PwC Academy to support workplace skills development. A non-credited commendation certificate will be given by U21/PwC to each student who enters the competition.

New for 2021: There will be a People's Choice vote to determine one of the three overall winners! You will be able to vote via the U21 website between Tuesday, July 27 and Friday, August 20, 2021.

Rules for Submission:

  • UConn may submit up to 4 entries. Entries must be submitted to U21 via the Office of Global Affairs - Global Partnerships & Outreach. Students may not submit their videos directly to U21.
  • Submissions must be video format, either an MP4 file or .MOV. Files sent in any other format will not be accepted.
  • Video presentations are strictly limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding this will be disqualified.
  • Entrants will be judged on their presentation skills and they must feature in the video.
  • Group submissions are not accepted.
  • It is permissible to use a maximum of one slide per presentation.
  • The 3-minute audio must be continuous - no edits or breaks, etc.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word only (e.g. no poems, raps or songs). No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.
  • Props are not allowed.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Winners and runners up will be expected to provide a report after the competition to reflect on their experience.
  • Video presentations must be tailored for this competition and not made publicly available in advance of submission.

Intellectual Property:

By submitting an entry to the Innovation Challenge, students are acknowledging that their ideas/research will be made publicly accessible and shared with industry professionals. Videos will be uploaded to Vimeo and disseminated through the U21 website and social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), and PwC's media channels. Student videos will be shared with PwC's clients (they will be notified which clients). Judges, reviewers, staff and the audience will not be asked to sign non-disclosure statements.

U21 and PwC may take stills, video and/or audio clips of the presentations, or copy material prepared for use in the presentation, for promotional purposes. If the student's presentation draws on work/research that is being/has been conducted under contract with an outside sponsor, they are advised to discuss the related contractual terms of confidentiality and intellectual property with their supervisor(s) before participating in competition. UConn, U21 and PwC have the right to ask a student to withdraw from the competition if these conditions are not met.

For additional questions, contact


UConn's Mac Montana won the Group B Prize of the Innovation Challenge in 2018. The question and response:

We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work; automation and "thinking machines" are replacing human tasks, changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. But what will the future look like? PwC has developed four scenarios in their Workforce of the Future study: a Red World where innovation rules; a Blue World where corporate is king; a Green World where companies care, and a Yellow World where humans come first.

Assuming you find yourself on a journey that looks like it ends in a "Green and Yellow Worlds" scenario where Companies Care and Humans Come First, what are the pros and cons for you? what skills will be important for individuals to thrive in this world, and how do you plan on adapting to it?