RISE Showcase and Awards

RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) is U21’s newest student opportunity, an 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 a student-led project 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 three prizes valued at over $2000 each.

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 a bespoke package of acceleration and professional development opportunities with a minimum value of $2000 per team.

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 to get involved

  • Entries are submitted by U21 member institutions. For more information and to register your institution, click here.
  • If you are a student wishing to enter your project, contact caroline.hetherington@universitas21.com to find our who is leading RISE in your institution. For more information, click here.
  • 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.

All you need to know can also be found in the RISE Handbook:

RISE Handbook for Universities and Students

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