RISE Showcase and Awards

RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) is U21’s international showcase of student achievement in sustainability and social innovation designed to accelerate the scale and impact of student-led projects by connecting them with a network of experts in academia and industry.

Each U21 member institution is invited to nominate up to 4 student-led projects based on an aspect of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Alongside access to a global network of supporters, teams will have the chance of winning one of four prizes valued at over $2000 each.

View the RISE 2022/23projects

How to get involved

Taking part in RISE showcase and awards

  • Entries are submitted by U21 member institutions.
  • You can find a list of your university contacts here and any further questions please contact studentexperience@universitas21.com to find out who is leading RISE in your institution! 
  • All you need to know can also be found in the RISE Handbook:

    RISE Handbook

How to support RISE student sustainability projects

  • Anyone can make a pledge of support to a project. Once video pitches are submitted, the RISE Showcase will go live and you can pledge your support. For more information on pledges, click here.

Key Dates

  • Deadline for student finalists video submissions: end of May (Please note each institution may have their own internal deadline that may be earlier so please check this with you RISE contact.)
  • Judging and announcement of RISE awards: June/July
  • Finalists development programme: June onwards

Why enter?

It can be difficult to take a social enterprise or innovation idea beyond small-scale, local implementation, into something bigger. Creating global impact is even more of a challenge!

RISE helps students realise this goal for their projects by giving them access to a global audience of potential supporters. U21 will ensure that each project will receive expert support as well as international exposure, working to attract pledges of support for the different projects from our global partners in industry and academia.

Each project will also be entered into the RISE Awards, offering winning teams seed funding of $2000 (USD) per team to further their project.

All participants will be recognised via a certificate of commendation and a LinkedIn recommendation (if they wish).

Why the Sustainable Development Goals?

U21 is committed to sustainable development across everything we do, in quality education, responsible research, and global partnerships. We are also proud to support and promote the United Nations’ agenda, and encourage the U21 community to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We are signatories of the Declaration on University Global Engagement, and hold Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The SDGs aren’t just about environmental action: they cover almost every aspect of environmental and societal development. In practice, most non-profit and social innovation projects will already be addressing at least one goal, perhaps without even realising it.

Learn more about the SDGs

How far advanced should projects be?

A RISE project can’t be just theoretical. There needs to have been some positive actions taken by the team to turn an idea into reality. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be a fully-fledged enterprise or small business. Here are some ideas of what a RISE entry might look like, at all stages of the students’ journey.

The RISE Pledges are designed to offer tailored support no matter what stage a project is currently at. Furthermore, the RISE Awards specifically focus on recognising projects at different stages: Most Potential, Most Innovative, and Most Impact.

Examples of project actions eligible for RISE
The project could be at any of these three action-focused stages of development

To see further examples of successful RISE projects, see the RISE Showcase.