The Global Design Challenge 2021 is a worldwide search for ambitious, innovative ideas to get people physically active. It is launched by University College Cork, Ireland, in association with Sport Ireland, and under the patronage of UNESCO. There are development grants of up to €10,000 for the best concepts.

On June 7 the Global Design Challenge for Sport and Physical Activity will open for registration, as part of a bid to engage more people in sport and physical activity, following a year of lockdown and restrictions that have seen participation levels plummet. 

In 2020, nearly 200 teams from around the world entered the Global Design Challenge, but this year, with the sponsorship of Sport Ireland,  we are also looking for individuals, groups and organisations to submit ideas for development.

The grand challenge this year is

to design innovative ways of increasing participation in sport and physical activity in an inclusive, sustainable, and fun way!

There are 8 specific sub-challenges.  

Find innovative ways to

  • increase opportunities for engagement in physical activity ensuring that it is accessible to everyone of any ability, age, race or socio-economic background - INCLUSION
  • inspire community-level engagement in physical activity for all ages - COMMUNITY
  • bring participants, volunteers and fans back to sport and physical activity - FANS AND VOLUNTEERS
  • use sport as a means to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in a practical way - POLICY-BASED
  • reimagine sport and physical activity (e.g., space and place, funding models) to make it more sustainable and resilient to shocks and change - SUSTAINABILITY
  • motivate children and youth to engage in sport and physical activity, that leads to life-long interest - YOUTH-BASED
  • harness technology to radically change the way sport and physical activity are imagined - TECHNOLOGY-BASED
  • integrate sport and physical activity into leisure and lifestyle activities (e.g., cycling for transport, gardening for food security) - LIFESTYLE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

If you have innovative ideas, which could solve any of these challenges, come and join us in trying to get people more physically active.


There are 3 webinars and a number of links to documents and resources that will help you in the 'Resources' tab.



1.   Registration for the competition: Opens June 7. During this time you can register and will get access to webinars and other resources to help you develop your submission. Registration can take place until the end of the competition on June 27.

2.   Competition:  June 21–June 27. You and your team will analyse the challenge you see in sport and physical activity and create innovative solutions to submit to the judging panel by 17h00 GMT on June 27.

3.   Judging: June 28–June 30. All submissions will be judged by a panel of international experts and a shortlist of 25 teams will be announced. Those who are not selected in the top 25 will be given guidance on possible next steps.

4.   Awards: July 2. The judges will select and announce the 7 winners of the Development Grants.

5.   Mentor webinar: During week of 12 July. All 25 shortlisted teams will have access to mentoring from experts to prepare to showcase their idea to potential partners.

6.   Matching: July. The top 25 teams will have the opportunity to approach and be approached by partners and investors to develop their ideas further.

7.   Incubation: August onwards. Team/ideas finding partners and/or investors will continue to develop their ideas towards implementation.


This website will be updated from June 7 with further information on the judging panel, mentoring webinar, etc.


What about intellectual Property?

All rights and title to any intellectual property contained in an entry rests with the submitting team.

Eligibility Criteria

·      Participants: There are no restrictions on eligibility to participate in GDC 2021 with the exception that the team member registering must be aged 18 or over.

·      Countries: GDC is a global challenge and international teams are welcome.

·      Teams: Teams can be of any size.

·      Diversity: GDC 2021 encourages diversity.





1. Team Lead and team members names, affiliated organisations and Linkedin profiles

2. Country of submission 

3. Main category of submission (select up to 2 of the following sub-challenges)

·      Inclusion

·      Community

·      Fans and volunteers

·      Policy-based

·      Sustainability

·      Technology-based

·      Youth-based 

·      Lifestyle physical activity

4. What is the focused challenge you are addressing (max 20 words) 

5. Overall idea description (max 200 words) 

6. Outline how your submission meets the 3 judging criteria:

·      Creativity and innovation (100 words)

·      Impact on identified challenge and UN Sustainable Development Goals (100 words)

·      Implementation feasibility (100 words) 

7. Idea development stage (select one of the following)

·      Early testing/brainstorming stage

·      Tested and piloted

·      Piloted and ready to roll out

·      Rolled out and ready to expand  

8. Video pitch of no more than 3 minutes

9. Attach any other supporting documentation e.g., results of previous pilots, papers, etc.



Hackathon Sponsors


21,500 in prizes

1st Place Development Grant* to the value of €10,000

See Development Grants section for more details
*Terms and Conditions will apply

2nd Place Development Grant* to the value of €5,000

See Development Grants section for more details
*Terms and Conditions will apply

3rd Place Development Grant* to the value of €2,500

See Development Grants section for more details
*Terms and Conditions will apply

4th Place Development Grant* to the value of €1,000

See Development Grants section for more details
*Terms and Conditions will apply

5th, 6th and 7th Place Development Grants* to the value of €500 (3)

See Development Grants section for more details
*Terms and Conditions will apply

Special Recognition Awards (3)

For projects that further ‘UNESCO's mission to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education’.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


See Judging Tab

See Judging Tab
UCC Academy

Judging Criteria

  • Creativity and innovation (33.3%)
    Creativity and innovation in sport and physical activity 
  • Impact (33.3%)
    Impact on the identified challenge and towards the Sustainable Development Goals 
  • Feasibility (33.3%)
    Feasibility of successful practical implementation of the idea  

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