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Submissions are now closed

Submissions are now closed. Vote for your favorite solution and help our Bright Minds fast-forward 100% renewable energy. Voting is open until 28 Feb.

About the Challenge

Who can enter the Bright Minds Challenge? The Challenge is open to anyone – scientists, grad students, technologists, entrepreneurs, even committed enthusiasts – who’s devised a solution that can significantly advance solar or energy storage. The solution needs to be prototyped, at a patent-ready stage and ready to scale. Want know more? Check out the entry criteria.

Is there a fee for entries? No. You pay nothing to enter. DSM and the other supporting partners are funding the costs of running the Challenge. And because there’s no cash prize – but rather, an invaluable package of expertise on offer instead – there’s no need for us to amass a pot of prize money. We hope at least some of the solutions entered into the Challenge will gain financial backing as a result of connections that are made during the process, including face time with venture capitalists. But handing out cash is not what the Challenge itself is about. It’s about access to skills, resources and knowledge that are just not available anywhere else. It’s about building your capability and providing new connections that can help get your solution to market faster and in-turn speed up societal progress.

What support will I get if I enter? That depends partly on how well your solution does in the Challenge. You can be sure of receiving tips and support on how best to communicate with potential supporters and collaborators. Plus the chance to reach out to a wide community of people via the Challenge website and social media network.

If your solution makes it through to the Top 10, you’ll get valuable feedback from our judging panel as they narrow the entries to three finalists. And if you’re in the Final 3 you’ll get one-to-one mentoring, plus a tailored package of 125 hours of support (equivalent > $25,000) from a range of experts for the number 3 and 250 hours (equivalent > $50,000) for number 2. The winner will get 500 hours (equivalent > $100,000) of expert support.

Are there any terms and conditions I should know about? There are a few, yes. Have a look.

How much time will I need to set aside if I enter the Challenge? During the campaigning and voting period, the amount of time you put into promoting your solution will be up to you. It stands to reason that those who put in more time – updating and responding to followers, for example – will have the best chance of success in the vote. But help from your friends and colleagues may go a long way towards getting you noticed, as well.

If you’re in the Top 10, you’ll need to attend a face-to-face jury day with our judging expert panel in April 2017 (date and location to be announced). And if you’re in the Final 3, you’ll be expected to put in the commitment needed – with the help of expert mentors – to hone your pitch, then deliver it to the judges. And to take part in the finals announcement event in June 2017 (date and location to be announced).

Why focus on solar and energy storage, and not other renewables? We see solar and energy storage as areas with a seriously high growth potential. We believe these two areas have especially good potential, with a bit of fresh thinking and outside-the-box support, to play a unique role in getting us there quicker – especially when advanced together, in tandem.

Also, solar and energy storage are two areas where DSM and the other Challenge partners have experience – commercially and technically – which means we’ll be able to offer a great package of technical and commercial support to the winners of the Bright Minds Challenge.

What led DSM to initiate the Challenge? The idea for the Bright Minds Challenge grew out of an inspiring video that DSM made to celebrate the unsung heroes of science. Take a look.

I’m not a scientist or entrepreneur. Can I still get involved in the Challenge? Absolutely. You can offer your support to our Bright Minds in a variety of ways. Have a look at the solutions entries, choose your favorite and get behind them. By voting, promoting them or offering your knowledge or help.

Will there be a future Challenge for other fields of science? We certainly hope so. We’re focusing on renewables for the first Bright Minds Challenge. But we want to expand the community outwards from here, to find and support solutions that can fast-forward societal progress in all kinds of areas. Sign up to our newsletter and you’ll be among the first to know when future Challenge areas are announced.


How do I enter? We’ve tried to make entering as straightforward as possible. Simply fill in the entry form online – and as long as your solution meets our basic entry requirements, you’re in. In addition to providing a variety of specified information about your project, you’ll need to upload a video, presenting it to the world. If movie-making isn’t your normal forte, take a look at our video-making top tips.

Can I enter on my own or do I need to be part of a team? Anyone can enter. The focus of the Bright Minds Challenge is on solutions, first and foremost. You can be a lone ranger, a team of entrepreneurs or a start-up – what matters is that you’ve got a solar or energy storage solution that’s ready to scale, and that it has the potential to get there much faster with help.

I have a great idea but not a working prototype. Can I still enter? Unfortunately, no. If your solution is still at ideas stage this is not the Challenge for you. Our focus is on providing support and expertise to help solutions to scale faster, so your solution needs to be at working prototype stage, and either already have a patent or be at a patent-ready stage.

Does it matter which country I live in?
Not in the least. We want to encourage entries from all over the world. If you make it to the final 10 Travel, hotel accommodation and conference registration costs will be reimbursed for 1 person per team for each of the 10 finalists and will be booked by DSM. If you make it through to the Final 3, Travel, hotel accommodation and conference registration costs will be reimbursed for 2 persons per team for each of the 3 finalists and will be booked by DSM. The package of expertise will take into account the needs and wishes of the winners. We’ll work with you to make sure the tailored support package can work for you as much as possible, regardless of your location.

Can I submit my entry in my native language? All entries need to be submitted in English. We want to find the absolute best emerging solar and energy storage solutions in the world today – and would hate to think that we missed a potential finalist because of the language barrier. But on a practical level our judges need to be able to review your solution details in a language they understand. Not confident writing in English? Consider asking a colleague or friend to help out.

Do I have to make a video in order to enter? I’m a scientist, not a filmmaker. The solution videos are an essential element of the Bright Minds Challenge. We made this call because online videos are such a powerful medium – one of the very best ways to inspire people and get them excited about your solutions.

We realize that the video requirement will take many of our entrants out of their comfort zone. But that may not be such a bad thing. Figuring out how to present your solution in a video format could very well even help to bring out its essence and importance in a way that would never have happened on paper. And your video could reach and persuade a much wider audience than would otherwise be possible – getting it noticed and intriguing potential collaborators and supporters.

Not sure where to start? Have a look at our tips for making a good video. It could be much easier than you think.

Can I film my solution video on a smart phone or do I need to use more sophisticated equipment? It’s your solution and the content that counts. And making the video in a lo-fi way can give your video an immediate, personal feel that might be lost in a more professional production. Just make sure that you check out our tips on making a good video – including filming in landscape (horizontal) mode rather than portrait (vertical), which is one of the most common mistakes. And if an iPhone film can make it to the Sundance Film Festival, then it is certainly good enough for us!

Can I change and update my entry after submitting it? Yes. You can change your entry as much as you like up until submission period closes. Your project page can be changed by using your unique link which was sent by email. So feel free to keep polishing it right up to the deadline on 1 February 2017. Then we’ll freeze the entries as they are and the Challenge will move on to the next stage – campaigning, promotion and public voting. **UPDATE** We’ve extended the submission deadline to 6 February 2017 to give those who have started their application a chance to finalize it.

Confidentiality & rights

Who will see my application? Will everything I submit be made public? Your video and project summary will be visible to everyone, but the technical details you submit will only be seen by the Bright Minds team and our judges. See how we protect your information. Also you’ll see clearly in the form what is public and what not can only be seen by the Bright Minds Team and the judges. We would like to stress that any information you provide in this application form must be non-confidential.


I'm running out of time and might miss the deadline. What are my options? Focus on the key messages and meeting the basic entry requirements – your solution video, your project summary, your technical details – in as few words as possible. Check out our tips for crafting your entry and making a good video. And remember that you’ll be able to add updates later, to expand on your story. Good luck!

What if the website goes down and I can't submit my solution? We would hope this would never happen. But if you run into problems then contact us and we’ll work with you to find a happy solution.

How do I report an inappropriate entry? If you spot an entry that appears to be out of step with the Bright Minds terms and conditions or is just simply rude or unserious or offensive, please email the Bright Minds team and we’ll look into it.

My solution was on the website, but has now disappeared. Why is that? Something may have gone wrong technically – in which case, please let us know and we’ll look into it asap. Or we may have temporarily removed your entry from the site because of a complaint or because the team need to ask for clarification about the details of your solution. Should that happen, we’ll be in touch with you soon with an update.

Why has my solution entry been rejected? If you’re not sure why your entry has been rejected, please take a look at the Challenge entry criteria. If you have a specific question about your solution’s eligibility to be part of the Challenge, please get in touch.

My image isn't uploading - why? Your image is probably in the wrong format or exceeds the maximum file size. Please keep to the following specifications:

  • File-type (extension): JPG, JPEG or PNG
  • Maximum dimensions of the picture: 1920x1080 pixels
  • Filesize must not exceed: 2 MB

Why isn't my video playing? If your video isn’t playing, it may be you have not entered the correct unique YouTube movie ID. Taking as an example, the unique movie ID is the random string of numbers and letters that follow the watch?v=. In this example the unique movie ID is kT3ee0nJL4w.


Why a public vote? We felt that the urge for renewable energy is something which rallies many concerned enthusiasts and members of the public. Through a public vote we hope to

  • give people a voice in the future we create
  • generate a lot of additional exposure (that would not have been possible with a closed vote or judging system) for both the scientists, their solutions and the greater cause to speed up the availability of 100% renewable energy.

How can I vote? Voting is easy.

  1. Choose a solution
  2. Login via the vote button (this is to ensure fair voting, you only need to login once per session, we will not retain your data for any other reason)
  3. Vote (you can only vote for one solution once)
  4. Find another solution and vote again (if you want)

Q. Why do I have to login to vote? And what is Muut? Muut is our online comment, voting and registration mechanism. It helps ensure:

  • That people are encouraged to spend some time reviewing each of the solutions before casting a vote
  • That voters can only cast one vote per solution and no more than this
  • That nefarious ‘bots’ are prevented from artificially influencing the votes
  • That the voting process is as fair as possible
  • Please note that in all instances we will abide by our data privacy policy and that we will not use your data for any reason other than the login process.

Q. What should I look for when voting? This is ultimately a personal decision. You don’t need to be a scientist or have a technical background to evaluate a proposal (although this is also welcome). At the simplest level it is about considering how a solution can benefit our planet and our society and then casting a vote based on the future that this could create. For some more vote tips read our blog. And don’t forget that our panel of expert judges will be evaluating technical rigour and potential at the later judging stages.

Q. How can we make sure the public vote is fair? This is really important to us. There are several mechanisms we have put in place to help create a fair voting system. These include:

  • Voters are restricted to only one vote per solution.
  • Voters must login to vote to validate their entry
  • Spam filters are working behind the scenes to pick-up inappropriate, unexpected or unusual activity.
  • Alongside our technological guards against unfair voting, we will also be undertaking manual ‘spot’ checks.
  • All solutions will appear randomly on the solutions page, totally irrespective of the number of votes a particular solution has. This order changes every time the page is refreshed or revisited.
  • All solutions will be provided with equal attention and support by the Bright Minds Challenge team.

Q. What if there is ‘unfair’ voting or behaviour? We’ve tried really hard to making the voting system fair. However, should we identify any unfair voting behaviour from any of our solutions, then they will be subject to disqualification as per our terms and conditions. Unfair voting can comprise of many acts, these could include but are not limited to:

  • Bulk entries received from the same operating system and IP address or router.
  • Significant numbers of votes received at the same time.
  • Votes received from email addresses / usernames that follow an unnatural (not human) pattern.


The Top 10

How will the Top 10 be chosen? Public voting will determine which solutions make the cut. So get promoting, keep adding updates and tell all your friends, family and colleagues to take part.

How will I know if I'm in the Top 10? Follow @BeABrightMind on Twitter to be the first to know when the Top 10 are announced on 1 March 2017.

What happens next if I make the top 10? Firstly: congratulations! Your solution has already made great new connections and found new supporters around the world. The Bright Minds team will be in touch soon to plan the details for the jury event where you will be asked to pitch your solution for the jury. The Final 3 will be unveiled in April (date to be announced) after this jury event.

Will my travel costs be reimbursed? The travel, hotel accommodation and conference registration costs will be reimbursed for 1 person per team for each of the 10 semi-finalists and will be booked by DSM (see Terms & Conditions).

The Final 3

I'm in the Final 3! What happens now? Well done for making it this far. Within the next few days, we’ll put you in touch with the mentors who will work with you as you prepare your final pitch to the judges. You’ll have a few weeks to perfect your case before the final’s event in June (date and location to be announced on this website) with a high profile jury. So get ready.

The overall winner will be announced during that event in June before an audience of people from all kinds of areas of science and business. Will you be the winner?

What's the judging process for the final? In choosing the overall Challenge winner, our judges will apply the same criteria they used to select the Final 3. They’ll also take into account how persuasive you are in your pitch. And they’ll be considering which of the Final 3 solutions they believe have the greatest potential to scale.

Will my travel costs be reimbursed? Travel, hotel accommodation and conference registration costs will be reimbursed for 2 persons per team for each of the 3 finalists and will be booked by DSM (see Terms & Conditions).

Still have questions?

If you can’t see your question here, don’t hesitate to get in touch. The Bright Minds team will be happy to help.