U21 Students RISE to success!

RISE Mountain


The 2020/21 RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) awards have once again proved to be a huge success, with record participation from 200 students across 55 different projects, representing 23 of our member universities.  

This is the second year that Universitas 21 have delivered the RISE showcase and awards, which supports student-led projects focused on an aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Projects are submitted to the competition and showcased on U21’s website and social media channels; they are also shared with a network of experts in academia and industry. In addition, all of the students involved have the opportunity to take part in a bespoke development programme whilst gaining exposure to U21’s international audience of supporters. Finalists competed in four categories to win US$2000 seed funding to further their project; with awards given for Most Innovative, Most Collaborative, Most Impact and Most Potential.  

An International panel from the world of social entrepreneurship and innovation had the unenviable task of choosing the best teams from a selection of inspirational video pitches, and we’re delighted to share the winning entries below.  

Most Impact: Proyecto 99 from Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico.  

Proyecto 99 was built to provide accessible, quality education to young people, to prevent and reduce school dropout rates through extracurricular activities.  

Most Innovative: Project CheckR from KU Leuven, Belgium.   

CheckR is an innovative virtual reality game that can detect at-risk patients and redirect them seek help, particularly helping to treat chronic and preventable diseases.  

Most Collaborative: FundEd from University of Maryland, USA.   

FundEd helps to bridge the gaps in the educational needs of underprivileged children in India, through providing technology and grants to those in need.    

Most Potential: SunFeeds from Lund University, Sweden.   

SunFeeds is a nutritional replacement food based on sunflower kernels, which provide a high protein, high energy, low cost food replacement. The product is specifically for children aged 6-59 months who suffer from severe malnutrition, and the elderly.  

 Winners of the Most Innovative Award, CheckR, commented, “Being part of the U21 RISE awards has been very inspiring for our project. In the past few weeks, we had the opportunity to follow three workshops to help further our project, but the most impactful experience was hearing about the other projects around the world. It was great to hear about the inspiring work that people are doing to contribute in one way or another to the SDGs. Having the opportunity to connect with such international community of people all working together for social impact is an invaluable opportunity.” 

U21’s Provost Jenny Dixon was so impressed by the quality of projects submitted that she funded an additional Provost award, bringing the total number of awards granted to five.  

Provost’s Award: Cuple from University of Melbourne, Australia.   

Cuple is a social enterprise that provides a sustainable business model to reduce the amount of disposable plastics that Australians use.   

Nathan Lee from Cuple, commented; “Being a part of U21 RISE and seeing all the incredible social enterprises created by students around the world has really inspired us to work even harder on Cuple and bring our vision of a world without disposable cups to fruition. Even more so than ever, I believe that through Cuple we can make a real impact on the issue of an overreliance on disposable cups and the associated lack of care for the environment in this area. The support we have received from U21 RISE has been overwhelming and it has only reinforced our belief that Cuple will do big things in the future!” 

All of the projects, including the winning entries, can be found on the U21 RISE Showcase pages on our website. RISE finalist projects are open to pledges of support until the end of May; this could be an offer of mentoring, some expert advice or even some hands-on support. Whether you can offer an hour over Zoom to share your expertise, or you are inspired to get involved with their work yourself, your support could make all the difference. You can find out more about pledging here