PwC Innovation Challenge

About the Competition

U21 and PwC, two globally-focused organisations, have come together to offer unique professional development opportunities for U21's network of graduate students. This alliance supports and prepares U21 students for the world of work by allowing them to consider and respond to real workplace challenges, overseen by PwC. The format of the competition is designed to help students develop presentation and communication skills, foster critical thinking and expertise and develop an international network of peers. Learn more here.

What will students gain?

The challenge offers students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to 'real-world' situations and reflect on their own experiences via a short three-minute video. As a result of taking part, students will:

  • Develop their presentation and communication skills (to non-specialist audiences)
  • Collaborate with other students globally on real-world, work-based challenges
  • Develop creative and innovative approaches to problem solving
  • Establish an international peer network for collaboration and support
  • Establish their professional networks by being connected with PwC and their clients

What's new?

This year's Innovation Challenge will focus on collaboration and team work to enable students to develop their problem-solving skills and personal/professional networks beyond the lifespan of the competition. The competition this year will have 2 phases:

For the Individual Challenge (Phase 1), entrants are asked to submit (to their university) a three-minute response to a challenge question via a video to the challenge. Each U21 member university will be expected to run their internal rounds of the competition as normal and submit up to 2 entries.

The entries submitted by the universities to U21 will be put through into the Team Challenge (Phase 2). U21 will group all these final entries into teams. These teams will respond to a second challenge question set by PwC, themed around COP27. This will be communicated via an online briefing session which entrants must attend. The teams will work collaboratively on a response which they will then pitch to a judging panel consisting of representatives from U21, PwC and PwC's clients. All phases will be completed virtually.

The group with the winning pitch will receive career coaching sessions (virtual) with the PwC Academy as their prize.


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/remotely.


Deadline for video submissions: Friday, September 30, 2022 (Please submit your video to for consideration by Friday, September 23, 2022)
Groups for team activity announced: Monday, October 10, 2022
Final pitches to judging panel: December 5-9, 2022
Winners to be announced: Week of December 12, 2022

2022 Competition:

We invite any registered graduate student at UConn 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 (Phase 2) will be circulated to successful finalists from the Individual Challenge (Phase 1) after they have been grouped into teams.

New for 2022: The Team Challenge phase of the competition is new for 2022. This is in response to the previous cohort's feedback that they would have liked more opportunities to build an international network, and PwC's input in shaping the competition to better reflect the realities of the working world where we are often requires to work as part of a diverse team.


The competition is open to any registered graduate student in one of U21's member universities (this includes students from taught and research masters programmes, MPhils etc., and PhDs). It is the responsibility of each U21 university to check the registration status of any student that they send forward as a finalist for adjudication. Students on joint PhDs between two U21 members are eligible to apply.

Rules for Submission:

  • UConn may submit up to 2 entries. Entries must be submitted to U21 via the Office of Global Affairs - Global Partnerships & Outreach ( Students may not submit their videos directly to U21.
  • Submissions must be video format, either an MP4 file or .MOV. Files sent in any other format will not be accepted.
  • Video presentations are strictly limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding this will be disqualified.
  • Entrants will be judged on their presentation skills and they must feature in the video.
  • Group submissions are not accepted.
  • It is permissible to use a maximum of one slide per presentation.
  • The 3-minute audio must be continuous - no edits or breaks, etc.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word only (e.g. no poems, raps or songs). No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.
  • Props are not allowed.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Winners will be expected to provide a report after the competition to reflect on their experience.
  • Video presentations must be tailored for this competition and not made publicly available in advance of submission.

Intellectual Property:

By submitting an entry to the Innovation Challenge, students are acknowledging that their ideas/research will be made publicly accessible and shared with industry professionals. Videos will be uploaded to Vimeo and disseminated through the U21 website and social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), and PwC's media channels. Student videos will be shared with PwC's clients (they will be notified which clients). Judges, reviewers, staff and the audience will not be asked to sign non-disclosure statements.

U21 and PwC may take stills, video and/or audio clips of the presentations, or copy material prepared for use in the presentation, for promotional purposes. If the student's presentation draws on work/research that is being/has been conducted under contract with an outside sponsor, they are advised to discuss the related contractual terms of confidentiality and intellectual property with their supervisor(s) before participating in competition. UConn, U21 and PwC have the right to ask a student to withdraw from the competition if these conditions are not met.

If you have any questions or need advice with any aspect of this competition, please contact


UConn's Mac Montana won the Group B Prize of the Innovation Challenge in 2018. The question and response:

We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work; automation and "thinking machines" are replacing human tasks, changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. But what will the future look like? PwC has developed four scenarios in their Workforce of the Future study: a Red World where innovation rules; a Blue World where corporate is king; a Green World where companies care, and a Yellow World where humans come first.

Assuming you find yourself on a journey that looks like it ends in a "Green and Yellow Worlds" scenario where Companies Care and Humans Come First, what are the pros and cons for you? what skills will be important for individuals to thrive in this world, and how do you plan on adapting to it?