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.

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

Feng Xiong, PhD Civil Engineering, speaks about the U21 PwC Innovation Challenge

Innovation Challenge prizes

First prize

  • 7 day expenses-paid visit to Dubai meeting with staff at PwC Dubai who will arrange visits to some of the innovative projects in the city. (Travel will take place in accordance with global travel guidelines and timing will be determined by local restrictions.)
  • Career development coaching sessions with the PwC Academy
  • Access to employability skills development online courses

Runners up prizes

  • Career coaching sessions with the PwC Academy
  • Access to employability skills development online courses

Previous participant

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

Key benefits of taking part in the Challenge

  • You could win fantastic prizes and professional development opportunities.
  • 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 four University of Birmingham finalists videos will be watched by PwC and their clients.
  • All four finalists will receive access to employability skills development online courses.
  • 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

The recent Upskilling for Shared Prosperity report by the World Economic Forum and PwC makes the case for providing employees with learning and development opportunities to expand their horizons while minimizing skills gaps. The 2021 U21 & PwC Innovation Challenge asks you to propose an initiative that can help improve and maintain shared and sustainable prosperity.

Registration to take part in the competition is open until Sunday 18 April. From March, participants will be invited to join the Canvas course which contains further information about the challenge topic (including the report), as well as online training modules to assist you in addressing the challenge and recording your three minute video pitch.

The deadline to submit your first draft video pitch is Sunday 9 May, after which you will recieve feedback. The top videos will be chosen and those shortlisted will have the option to re-record their pitch based on the feedback received, and submit a final video by Thursday 17 June. An internal judging panel of high-level University of Birmingham academic and professional services staff will then select the top four videos to be submitted for judging by PwC and their clients.

Register to take part

  • Name
  • Would you like your participation in the U21 PwC Innovation Challenge included on your enhanced transcript?
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