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Innovation Challenge

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Challenge Overview

The Hub’s 2021 Fall Innovation Challenge is a semester-long ideation competition where student organizations compete try to solve real-world problems. The goal of this program is to foster real-life, innovative solutions to specific challenges in our communities. During the challenge, student organizations will work as a team to develop an innovative product, service, or program and present their ideas to be judged by a panel of innovative and entrepreneurial experts. The Hub’s Fall 2021 Innovation Challenge will award a winning student organization with a cash prize. 

The Challenge

The Fall 2021 challenge is looking for student organizations to solve the various water and waste pollution problems in our communities.  In order to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as climate change, food insecurity and public health, it’s going to take monumental efforts across all sectors of society. At the heart of this is the need for new processes and ideas to be developed that are sustainable and innovative. As the public and private sectors recognize the need to change in order to ensure the health of the planet, people and their profit, we know students have new, creative solutions that just might help address these challenges. 

We are seeking sustainability-focused ideas that are innovative and solutions oriented. This could be something on a large or small scale that address a problem through the lens of sustainability. The Fall 2021 Innovation Challenge ideas might include solutions to impacts from new regulations, changes to culture and social attitudes, and changes to resources and technology. 

Projects may be submitted under one of the following 3 categories: 

  1. Sustainable Water Solutions: California and many places in our nation and worldwide are struggling with drought and water shortages. What innovative solution do you have to make water accessible and affordable to all that doesn’t harm the environment or impact people in the development of that water solution? As a finite resource, fresh potable water only makes up 3% of our Earth’s water, and only 1.2% is available to access. As the earth’s population grows and climate disruption happens, we need to develop new strategies that will meet our needs and future generations needs because water is life.
  2. Sustainable Waste Solutions: Per capita,San Diego countyresidents throw away more pounds of garbage per day than any other large county in California. In 2018, 5.8lbs of trash per day was the county average whereas California as a state had an average of 5.6lbs of trash per person daily ( As our landfills continue to fill up, we need to find new and innovative solutions to this problem. This waste problem includes food waste, ocean garbage, plastic waste and much more. For this category, you can choose to focus in on one sub-category of waste or tackle it all together. 
  3. Holistic Sustainability Solutions: This category is broad but can be used for any innovative idea that tackles the three components of sustainability: people, planet and profit. When considering an innovative idea, this category is looking at a solution to a problem that ensures the environment is not harmed, people are not impacted negatively but that the solution or concept is profitable. For example, maybe you have a solution to climate impacts inSan Diego county. When developing the concept, you will also need to consider the impacts on people and the planet. Use this category if your idea is not strictly waste or water focused.


  • Submissions Site Opens: September 27th. 
  • Submission Site Closes: November 5th 
  • First Round of Judging: November 8th- 12th 
  • Finalists Announced: November 12th 
  • Finalist Video Presentation Due: December 3rd 
  • Winners Announced: December 6th