The 2023 edition of our €20,000 CESAER Student Challenge now launched!

58 leading universities of science and technology are launching the CESAER Student Challenge 2023!
7th March 2023
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Are you, or do you know, a student or PhD candidate with a brilliant idea for how science and technology can support our society’s efforts towards sustainability?

Then our €20,000 CESAER Student Challenge 2023 is your opportunity to form a team and benefit from unrivalled access from over 50 leading universities of science and technology across Europe. We are looking for novel ideas displaying scientific & technological excellence aimed at having a sustainable impact. Diversity in teams and ideas is highly encouraged!

In addition to a cash prize up to €20,000, our association will provide the winning team with a platform directly to the leaders and experts from our over 50 leading universities of science & technology. The team leaders of the winning and runner-up teams will be our invited guests, with travel and accommodation covered, to join us and be on stage during our flagship annual events CESAER Annual Meetings 2023 which this year will be hosted by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid from 18 to 19 October.

The students from our Members are encouraged to form inter-institutional, inter- and transdisciplinary and vertically integrated teams to enter this competition, for example, formed through and supported by their European University Alliance.

This webpage will be updated with the latest information as it becomes available, including the portal to submit your contribution, and guidance information to help our Members and students for their submissions.

The deadline for submission is 31 July 2023.

We encourage Members to forward the details of the competition to students and PhD candidates at their institution.

Please note that only one submission from each of our Member universities is possible. Your submission should be endorsed by the CESAER Institutional Liaison from the university of the Team Leader. We advise you to contact from now on the CESAER Institutional Liaison within your university. We will check with the Institutional Liaison from your university whether they endorsed your submission.


Expert Talks - 3 to 7 July 2023

These talks offer an extraordinary opportunity for students to engage with experts from Gdańsk Tech and enhance their submissions for the CESAER Student Challenge 2023. During this event, a panel of esteemed experts will be available each for two hours to engage in private online discussions with teams preparing their submissions. Teams will have the chance to interact with these experts, discuss their idea and seek guidance on various aspects of their submissions, including open innovation, sustainability, and marketing.

Innovation Talk - 4 May 2023

The Innovation Talk was an online event which will take place on Thursday 4 May 2023, from 4 to 6 PM local time Brussels (CEST). The Innovation Talk gave students the tools to understand current trends in innovation, types of innovations, how to pitch your idea and how to structure a successful presentation.

  • A summary of the Innovation Talk is available here

Launch material

You are encouraged to consider sharing and circulating the documents below broadly with any students and staff at your university who may be interested in the student challenge.

Submission material

Please note that it will possible to fill the form for submissions only once. We encourage you to download the PDF displaying the content of the form and to work as a team on a separate document.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you want to enter our CESAER Student Challenge 2023, but have a few questions? Have a read of our frequently asked questions that cover how to apply, how the competition is judged and more. This information will be updated along with questions we receive from potential entrants.


Who can enter the competition?

Teams must be student-led. The leader of the team must be enrolled as a bachelor student, a master student or a PhD candidate at one of our Member universities (full list here) at the date of the submission of the abstract. Teams must be endorsed by the contact person (Institutional Liaison) of the same institution as the student-leader, who in their endorsement also testify to the fact that the student-leader is enrolled.

What is the prize for the winning team?

The final prize is worth €20,000. We keep the possibility to split it over up to three winners in case of equally excellent submissions.

When will the winner be announced?

We will announce the winner during the CESAER Annual Meetings in Madrid on 19 October 2023.

How many team leaders will be invited to the CESAER Annual Meetings in Madrid in 2023?

We are planning on inviting team leaders from three teams to the CESAER Annual Meetings in Madrid. Financial support for travel and accommodation costs to attend CAM will be made available to support in-person participation.

Who owns the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) resulting from the work of the teams participating in this competition?

It is completely up to the teams to determine how IPR are allocated. We advise all teams to liaise with the relevant departments within their university and encourage all universities to provide professional support to their teams in this respect. In any case, CESAER does never aspire to own any IPR resulting from the work of the teams participating in this competition.

Will I get a certificate for participating in the Student Challenge?

Yes, each Member of each team will be awarded a certificate for participation, if the team’s submission fulfils the eligibility criteria.

Building a team

I am a student at a Member university looking for a team to join. Do you have any advice about where I should start?

We advise you to liaise with our Institutional Liaison (contact person) at your university to find out more about the existing collaborations and potential partners for this competition. If you do not know how to find them, please contact the Secretariat for guidance.

How big can the team be?

There is no minimum or maximum team size. Please note that if your team is made of more than 5 members, you will be invited to include in your submission a list of team members including for each Member: First Name; Last Name; Email; Institution (such as university or company); Field of study (past or current); Current study level (if applicable).

Can a team be from a single country only, or is cross-border cooperation mandatory?

Cross-border cooperation is not mandatory, but it is encouraged and will be rewarded as part of the evaluation, including under the criteria ‘Sustainability and impact of the idea’ where a diverse, broad and international team would be beneficial.

Can students and staff from universities that are not Members of CESAER be involved in the team?


How many Member universities of CESAER should have students involved in the team?

At least one. However, the more Member universities are involved in the team, the higher scoring in the evaluation.

Can external, non-university partners join the team?


Can undergraduate students enter the competition?


Can researchers participate in the competition?

Researchers can be part of the team. However, the leader of the team must be enrolled as a bachelor student, a master student or a PhD candidate at one of our Member universities ( full list here) at the date of the submission of the abstract. Additionally, we highly encourage vertically integrated teams, including researchers, but mainly students and PhD candidates.

I am a student and I do not know who the CESAER Institutional Liaison is at my university, how do I find this out?

The person who is the Institutional Liaison to CESAER for your university is well-known by anyone who engages with CESAER, so you may wish to start by contacting the person who shared the information about the student challenge with you, or any other person who you know engages with CESAER. If you cannot find the right person, the CESAER Secretariat is happy to help connect you, please reach out to us via the contact details provided. A public contact list of all Institutional Liaisons at all universities is not provided for privacy reasons, but we are of course happy to help put you in contact with the right person.

Submission and evaluation criteria

Should references be included in the maximum amount of characters?

References can be included in PDF under additional information. No specific style guide is required, but consistent formatting is of course encouraged.

When is the deadline to submit our abstract and video?

You have until 23:59 local time Brussels on 31 July 2023 to submit your abstract and video.

Should we send the video with the abstract?

Yes, the submission must contain both a video and an abstract to be eligible.

What if our video is more than 10MB?

If the file you wish to upload exceeds this limit, you can provide a link to an unlisted video and share the link in the form.

How should we demonstrate our idea’s contribution to sustainability?

The abstract must identify one or more areas of sustainability to which it seeks to contribute. We use a broad and flexible approach to define sustainability based on the UN SDG. For example, contributions related to COVID-19 can identify as UN SDG 3.

Must the idea we submit be new?

Novelty is one of our evaluation criteria assessed by independent experts. Ideas identified as very similar to those that have already been publicly communicated or presented (by the team or anyone else) will receive a lower score. Ideas evaluated as original and very different from what is currently publicly known will receive a higher score in novelty.

Is it possible for a team that is already a start-up to participate in the CESAER student challenge 2023?

The fact your team is already a start-up will not affect your evaluation. However, ‘novelty of the idea’ is an evaluation criteria, as underlined in the guide document. For the submission, teams are invited to ensure they make a convincing argument for their idea in relation to the four bullet points. For example, for an existing and publicly known start-up, the overall/general idea may be publicly known already, and perhaps the submission can instead focus on a new/emerging aspect (within or related to the overall idea) which may be partly or completely new and not published yet. Or if the bullet point ‘Has never been publicly presented or displayed;’ cannot be fulfilled, we encourage the submission to acknowledge that and instead make a compelling argument for the other three bullet points to attempt to convince the evaluation panel that the overall novelty is still excellent, even if (parts of) it has been publicly presented before by the team.

Should we refer to our published papers in the abstracts to support our submission?

Providing links to the current state-of-the-art in the area is most helpful, including to scientific publications (from the team or others).

How will the submitted ideas be evaluated and the winner be decided?

An independent expert panel will evaluate the abstracts and the videos. In the first stage, each idea will be assessed individually by every expert in the panel. Afterwards, a panel discussion will be held to choose the best idea.

What are the key criteria in the evaluation process that will determine our success in the competition?

Our independent expert panel will evaluate your abstracts along the criteria on the three dimensions mentioned above.

FAQ for Institutional Liaisons

I am an Institutional Liaison, what does it mean to ‘endorse’ a submission?

Each Member university can only endorse one team, although of course their students and staff can be involved in more teams as long as the other teams are endorsed by another CESAER Member university. The endorsement of the institutional liaison simply means that the university agrees that the team endorses is their ‘only’ team, and that the student-leader of the team is enrolled at the university at the time of submission.

I am an Institutional Liaison, how do I run the internal selection?

If you have more than one team internally at your university, and you need to pick one to endorse, your university has to select the one to endorse. The procedure for making this internal selection is completely up to you and the procedure used does not have to be communicated to the association or to the competition.

If you cannot find the answer to your question in this document, please contact our Advisor for Higher Education at


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