BIG Ideas Contest Fall 2022-Spring 2023




What is the BIG Idea?

BIG Ideas is a student innovation contest focused on developing ideas with social impact.

BIG Ideas is, by design, an entry-level program that encourages students who have limited or no competition experience to develop their ideas, transform their thinking and address societal problems through creativity and ingenuity. Advising, mentoring and assistance are integral parts of the program, along with funding and recognition. Beyond the contest itself, BIG Ideas will support every participant throughout the learning process, helping them to be better prepared for other in-class and on-campus idea competitions, as well as for the future real world competition of ideas.

Special thanks to UA Honors and Computer-Based Honors Program alumnus, James C. Kennemer. Jim has long had a vision of providing UA Honors and undergraduate students across campus with a significant program for developing innovative ideas to improve society. His generosity and support are making that a reality with the Honors College “BamaInnovation Gateway” (BIG) program and the BIG Ideas Contest.

The BIG Ideas contest is patterned after a similarly-named program developed at the University of California – Berkeley. We are grateful to UC Berkeley and the Blum Center for generously sharing their Big Idea resources.

Some differences versus typical business plan and entrepreneurial contests.

BIG Ideas Schedule:

BIG Ideas Rules:

  • BIG Ideas projects must be student initiated and student-led. The project may not be an extension of faculty-guided research or a non-student organization.
  • BIG Ideas focuses on early-stage projects that are based on ideas that are new or that have been formed within the past two years.
  • BIG Ideas prize money is an award, not a grant. This allows each project to remain under the ownership of the student teams, and avoids any intellectual property issues with The University of Alabama.
  • Participating in the BIG Ideas Contest does not preclude student teams from entering submissions in other contests or programs.

BIG Ideas Tracks:

The four track options will be announced at the BIG Ideas Fall Kick off.

BIG Ideas Team Lead:

  • Team Lead will be the primary applicant and main contact person for all BIG Ideas communications.
  • Team Lead will determine the distribution of any award to the team members.
  • Team Lead will submit all team member names and contact information by the deadline – Oct. 26 by 1 p.m. CST.

BIG Ideas Teams:

  • Team members must be current University of Alabama Honors College students (University Honors Program, Randall Research Scholars Program, University Fellows Experience, STEM or CREATE Path to the MBA, Blount Scholars Program, McCollough Pre-Medical Scholars Program or the EPIC Scholars Program). Team members can be from one program or different HC programs.
  • Teams should consist of 3-5 members and must participate in all BIG Ideas activities.
  • Teams may submit an application to only one track and students may only participate on one team.
  • Maximum of 25 teams for 2022-2023.

BIG Ideas Awards:


$1,000each top team per track

$500next four top teams

and other significant awards


$3,000overall top team on any track

$2,500each top team in other tracks

and other significant awards

BIG Ideas Judging:


Creativity / Innovation (30%)

Potential for Impact (30%)

Quality (20%)

Viability (20%)


Creativity / Innovation (25%)

Potential for Impact (25%)

Quality (25%)

Viability (25%)


If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Nancy Norwood at or 205-348-5557.



To aid in the development and preparation for the Fall 2022 launch of a more comprehensive BIG Ideas Contest, the Honors College (HC) conducted an eight-day pilot program in February 2022. Our goal was to provide support, recognition and awards for interdisciplinary teams and to empower the team members to develop creative solutions for the greater social good. Projects were entry-level or early-stage and had to be based on innovative ideas with clear social impact. The Honors College worked with other innovation contests and programs on campus to ensure the BIG Ideas Contest complements rather than competes with existing opportunities.


BIG Ideas Pilot Tracks:

Health and Well-being – The challenge for this track is to describe an intervention that would address health and well-being concerns.  Proposals may center on innovations addressing (a) physical, mental or emotional health, (b) the health care system locally, regionally, nationally or globally, (c) health issues and interventions with vulnerable populations or (d) other health or well-being issues. Proposals should (a) demonstrate evidence of an existing health/well-being issue or concern and (b) describe a system, program or technology to address the issue or concern.

Education and the Arts – The challenge for this track is to create an innovative solution to (a) enhance the quality of education, (b) address underlying barriers to education (access, cost, nutrition/food insecurity, funding/resources, quality, etc.), (c) improve literacy or (d) use any art form (visual/conceptual art, photography, new media, dance, video, theatre/performance, music, creative writing, etc.) that addresses societal problems, advocates for social change or enhances public awareness or community relations. Proposals should (a) demonstrate evidence of an existing issue or concern and (b) describe the design, development or delivery of education or literacy solutions or an innovative art project to educate and address the issue or concern.

Technology – The challenge for this track is propose a novel solution to a problem that has social impact using any form of technology (artificial intelligence, IoT, big data, cloud-based, mobile/smart phone/tablet, app-based, electronics, robotics, mechanical, propulsive, cyber, etc.).  Proposals should (a) demonstrate evidence of the problem and (b) develop a solution using technology to improve society or the greater good.

Other – The challenge for this track is to provide a creative or novel solution, intervention or program/system to address a problem or issue that does not fall into the Health and Well-being, Education and the Arts or Technology tracks. Proposals should (a) describe and demonstrate the problem or challenge facing society or a given population and (b) develop a system or program or solution that will address the problem or challenge.

Pilot Awards:

$1,000 per track.


Creativity / Innovation (35%)

Potential for Impact (35%)

Quality (20%)

Viability (10%)

2022 Pilot Entrepreneurs and Innovators

2022 Pilot Judges