Global Challenge Lab

Global Challenge Lab 23 has now ended; scroll down to watch the winning teams’ pitch videos.
Interested? Why not pre-register for next year’s programme.

About Global Challenge Lab:

Join students from across the world to form international teams and generate solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges and work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Learn new skills, meet new people and win a share of the prize fund.

In 2023 the Challenge focused on goal number seven: Affordable and Clean Energy.

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In partnership with:
Tsinghua x-lab logo-white
White TUM
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Supported by:

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Our partners:

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University of Queensland logo
University of Sao Paulo
University of Toronto

What is Global Challenge Lab?

The Global Challenge Lab is a virtual entrepreneurship programme run in partnership with Tsinghua University’s x-lab in Beijing and the Technical University of Munich.

Each year Imperial Enterprise Lab works with global university partners to bring together hundreds of students and alumni to grow their international network, gain new skills and create new ideas that help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Students from all disciplinary background are welcome in our 14-day hackathon, with optional workshops, guest speakers and mentoring. At the end of the programme, top teams from each track have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and win a share of the prize fund. Scroll down to read more about this year’s winners!

14-day entrepreneurship programme

Mixed teams – a team size of 3-6 members and each team must include participants from at least 2 different institutions

Delivered online – mix of live masterclasses and pre-recorded content
Supported by industry leader panel and speaker events
£10K prize fund
Expert training on cross-cultural collaboration, design thinking, prototyping and much more!
90+ global mentors​
Teams must present an innovative solution (technical or non-technical) to a UN Sustainable Development Goal

Challenge Tracks

Access to energy is critical for economic development and improved quality of life, but many people around the world still lack reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy sources. This challenge requires you to think creatively and develop new approaches to tackle the complex issues surrounding energy access and sustainability.

You will work together to identify key problems, brainstorm solutions, and build prototypes or models that can address these issues. We encourage you to collaborate, share your skills, and think outside the box as we aim to create actionable ideas that can make a real impact in the world.

Students will form international teams to innovate within tracks. As a team, you must choose one of the three tracks below to innovate within. Each track has 2 winners, who progress to the final. 


How might we provide affordable and reliable electricity for those hardest to reach?


How might we make energy systems more resilient to extreme weather and other disruptions?

Energy Usage and Efficiency

How might we motivate people and organisations to save energy and reduce their energy consumption?

People pointing to large screen showing weather systems

Learning outcomes

By the end of this programme you will:
Understand how to work and communicate effectively in cross-cultural teams
Understand the impact and importance of entrepreneurship in achieving the UN SDGs

Understand the factors that contribute to achieving UN SDG 7 from a global perspective

You will have created a comprehensive startup idea
Understand how to identify and test problems that are worth solving
Understand the fundamentals of what makes a great pitch and how to craft and articulate a compelling story

Entry requirements

  1. You must be a current enrolled student or alumnus (no more than 3 years since graduation) from one of the partner universities: Imperial College, University of Durham, London school of Economics, the American University in Beirut, University of Queensland, Indian institute of Science Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Tsinghua University, University of Sao Paulo, University of Ghana, Technical University of Munich, University of Geneva, University of Toronto, Cornell University, Sciences Po, University of Tokyo, University of Lagos, University of Hanoi, Denmark Technical University, The New School, University of Panama, TEA-LP, University of California.
  2. You must be available for the final event on Tuesday 18 July 2023.
  3. You can join as an individual and we will help you find a team, or you can join with others, providing they are a student at a partner university. You can have no more than two people from the same university in your team.
  4. The programme is designed to help you generate new ideas, you should not be entering with fully formed ideas or ventures.

Key dates

The challenge ran from 6 – 18 July 2023 comprising of a series of workshops, talks and networking sessions across multiple time zones. Attending all the sessions isn’t compulsory, although participation is encouraged.

1 July - Registration deadline

Make sure you register to join the challenge before 23:59 GMT+1 on 1 July 2023.

3 - 5 July (pre-programme) - Networking and team formation

Form international teams of 3-6 members. Each team must include participants from at least 2 different institutions. Teams must be confirmed on 6th July.

6 July onwards - Programme takes place

Optional and core keynotes, workshops, masterclasses, mentoring and networking to help develop your idea.

14 July - Deadline for pitch submissions

All submissions are due (12 EST/ 15 BST/22 CST) to be considered for the final.

15 July - Top teams announced

 The top 6 teams named will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and win a share of a £10,000 prize fund!

18 July - Live final and closing ceremony

Challenge finalists pitch to an industry leading panel for a share of the cash prize. If you are applying to take part in the Challenge, you must be available for this event.


Can I join with my friends/classmates?

Teams must be made up of students or recent alumni from partner universities, you will need to have a minimum of 3 partner universities represented on your team. You can join a team with your classmates as long as you meet this requirement. We will help you to form a team at the start of the programme.

Can I bring my own startup idea to the challenge?
You can already have some ideas, but this should be at early idea stage and you will need to agree with your team what to take forward and which idea to submit for the final.

The programme is designed to help you generate new ideas, you should not be entering with fully formed ventures.

Do I need to be fluent in English?
Yes, all the sessions will be delivered in English.
Do I need to have technical expertise, such as that in a traditional ‘hack’?
No technical skills are required, however, you are welcome to present or work on a technical idea or solution. You will also have access to the Harmony OS platform and technical support & mentorship should you wish to explore this, but it isn’t a pre-requisite.
How do I form a team?

If you want to join a team with a classmate or friend you are welcome to do so, providing they are from a partner university. If you are joining alone, we will arrange a series of structured and guided networking sessions to help you meet students from other universities. There will also be a Slack channel for you to meet and introduce yourself.

Can I submit multiple projects?
You will only be able to submit one project or solution to the Global Challenge Lab.
Who owns my IP?
By taking part in the Challenge you agree that any ideas/intellectual property generated within your team during the course of the Challenge will be deemed to be owned equally by all members of the team. At the end of the Challenge, team members can choose to continue to work on these ideas generated within their teams together or can choose to work on the idea independently of each other.

The Challenge is an ‘Open Hack’ meaning that neither the organisers, nor the Sponsors have any claim to the intellectual property generated by the participants at the Challenge. However, the status of the ownership of any pre-existing intellectual property generated outside the Challenge that you might use in connection with your idea/project will remain unchanged and will continue to be owned by those that owned it before Challenge.

Who can I speak to for more information?
Please email [email protected]  if you have any questions.
What if I have class and cannot attend a session?
In most cases we have scheduled multiple sessions across different time zones so that you have the opportunity to attend, if however, you cannot attend, you can watch back the recording at a convenient time. With the exception of the Final event. If your team makes it to the final, at least two of your team members will need to be available to pitch for a share of the prize fund.
Do I have to attend every workshop?

Ideally you would attend as many as you can, but we will be recording them if you can’t attend and want to watch them back. At least two members of your team should be available on Tuesday 18 July 2023 in case you make it to the final!

Will all the sessions be delivered in UK working hours? What if I’m in another country?
Sessions will be delivered across all partner university friendly time-zones. If the delivery times are not at a reasonable time based on your location, you can either join another session, or watch the recording back.
Who are the mentors?
Mentors will be available from across different industry sectors, professions, and geographical locations to advise you. We will allocate mentors to each team. It’s a great way to build your global network!
Will the prizes be awarded in UK Currency?
If your team wins a cash prize it will be split equally across your team and awarded in your local currency.


University Partners
Imperial College London
Tsinghua University (X-Lab)
Tsinghua x-lab logo
Technical University of Munich (TUM)
TUM logo
Unternehmer TUM
TUM logo
University of Toronto
University of Toronto Logo
Singapore University of Technology & Design
SUTD logo
London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)
LSE logo
University of Queensland
University of Queensland logo
University of Ghana
University of Ghana
University of São Paulo
University of Ghana
Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM)
University of Ghana
The University of Tokyo
University of Ghana
Sciences Po
University of Ghana
Cornell University
University of Ghana
American University of Beirut (AUB)
University of Ghana
Durham University
University of Ghana
Technical University of Denmark
University of Ghana
The New School
University of Ghana
The Technological University of Panama
University of Ghana
Hanoi University of Science and Technology
University of Ghana
Transforming Energy Access Learning Partnership
University of Ghana
University of California
University of Ghana
Supported by

Futurize designs virtual programs that enable creative minds from business and academia to collaborate and learn, design, and execute together to fuel innovation for a brighter future.

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Register your interest

2023 Winners

Watch the pitch videos created by our 3 winning teams:

First Place:

A technology designed by students from Imperial and The New School that harnesses anaerobic digestion to convert biogas from food waste into clean energy, providing a sustainable power generation solution.


Second Place:

Students from Imperial, University of Toronto, University of Sao Paulo, and Indian Institute of Technology Madras teamed up to produce a model that employs machine learning to optimise heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems inside commercial buildings, achieving smarter, greener workplaces.

Third Place:
GreenenergiX: SlimeWorks 

This collaborative effort by students from Hanoi University of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, University of Sao Paulo, and UnternehmerTUM draws on slime mould’s ability to form the shortest networks to facilitate affordable and reliable access to electricity.