U21 & PwC Innovation Challenge


The Universitas 21 and PwC Innovation Challenge is open to all postgraduate students studying with the University of Birmingham.

About the U21 & PwC Innovation Challenge

This competition challenges postgraduates to respond to contemporary, globally-important work-related issues set by PwC via an individual three-minute video. After an internal competition the best four videos from each Universitas 21 institution are submitted to be judged by PwC and their clients, who are leaders in graduate career development.

This is an online competition - you do not need to be in Birmingham to take part and this year there is an emphasis on international collaboration.

The competition has been running since 2018 and University of Birmingham postgraduates have performed very well. In 2018-19 a University of Birmingham MSc Clinical Neuropsychiatry student was one of three winners, beating postgraduates at U21 institutions across the world. Read about the winners of the U21 & PwC Innovation Challenge 2018/19.

In 2019-20 a University of Birmingham PhD Philosophy student was a runner-up, read about her experience in the PGR Development blog. In 2020-21 a University of Birmingham MSc International Business student won the newly introduced People's Choice Vote. Read about the winners of the U21 & PwC Innovation Challenge 2020/21.

Previous finalist Feng Xiong, PhD Civil Engineering, talks about the benefits she found in taking part.


There will be one winning team from the final pitches to the judging panel who will be awarded with highly-rated bespoke career coaching with the PwC Academy. All elements of the competition will take place online.

Previous participant

“It was a great opportunity to practice skills and prepare for my future career.”

Key benefits of taking part in the Challenge

  • By taking part you will develop your problem solving, critical thinking, innovation, communication, argument construction, reflection and presentation skills.
  • Participating in this competition provides you with useful examples of how you have applied your knowledge and skills in real-world situations, which you can use in job applications and at interviews.
  • The three University of Birmingham finalists videos will be watched by PwC and their clients.
  • All postgraduates who register for the competition will get exclusive access to Canvas training modules on Creative Problem Solving and Presentation & Pitching skills.

Challenge topic & timeframe

We invite any registered graduate student from U21 member universities to submit a 3-minute response via video to the following challenge:

To what extent should governments support the private sector in managing and prioritizing their Environmental, Societal and Governance (ESG) agenda?

PwC’s Annual CEO Survey reported that, despite rising interest in the Environmental, Societal and Governance agenda, strategy is still primarily driven by business metrics. From your own point of view, address the extent to which you think governments should support the private sector in this way, and what form you think the support should take.

The question for the Team Challenge (Phase 2) will be circulated to successful finalists from the Individual Challenge (Phase 1) after they have been grouped into teams.

The deadline for submitting your video for the Individual Challenge is Sunday 25 September 2022.

For further information about the competition, please visit the main U21/PwC Innovation Challenge competition website.

How to apply

2022 competition now live, to get involved join the Canvas on the link below. 


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