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About the RCA Grand Challenge

Established in 2016, the RCA Grand Challenge is an interdisciplinary event that runs each year across the entire School of Design, bringing together MA, MRes and PhD students to tackle key global challenges through collaboration.

The Grand Challenge gives postgraduate designers the opportunity to work together across a range of disciplines – including Design Products, Fashion, Global Innovation Design, Innovation Design Engineering, Intelligent Mobility, Service Design and Textiles – as well as with leading industry partners, such as Logitech and CERN.

Grand Challenge 2019

“The RCA Grand Challenge is an important strategic project in the School of Design focussing on multidisciplinary approaches to new design thinking. It encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, challenges students to think beyond their current methods, and inspires innovative and tangible responses to large scale global issues.”

Professor Paul Anderson Dean of the School of Design

The Grand Challenge 2021/22: New Economic Model for the Oceans

Reef Bells

The Grand Challenge 2021/22: New Economic Model for the Oceans invited students to investigate global topics including environmental sustainability, plastic pollution, loss of marine habitat and new ocean economies.

2021/22 saw the RCA’s School of Design continue their partnership with Logitech, one of the most innovative design companies in their industry, with support from Extreme E, a radical new off-road electric motorsport series, and Sustainable Ventures.

Find out more about the winning designs on our dedicated project page: the Grand Challenge 2021/22.

The Grand Challenge 2020/21: Design for Safety

The Yellow Box

The Grand Challenge 2020/21: Design for Safety asked students to develop design responses that explore, challenge or improve the practice of Design for Safety, in partnership with Logitech.

Interdisciplinary teams of students from across the School of Design worked together to respond to one of seven sub-themes: leadership, care, next generation interaction, futures, truth, health and resilience.

Find out more about the winning designs on our dedicated project page: the Grand Challenge 2020/21.

The Grand Challenge 2019/20: Enhancing the Human

Grand Challenge 2020 materials workshop

The Grand Challenge 2019/20: 'Enhancing the Human – capability and performance', asked students to consider designing for humans 180 years from the present, in partnership with Logitech and with support from CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.

79 interdisciplinary teams of 400 students received guidance from academic and industry mentors from the RCA, Logitech, CERN and external organisations including Google X and Lego. Their designs tackled a range of projected problems including climate change, overpopulation and complex ethical challenges, students presented optimistic design-led solutions, with the future in mind.

Discover the four winning designs on our dedicated project page: the Grand Challenge 2019/20.

The Grand Challenge 2018/19 with CERN

Nari

For the Grand Challenge 2018/19 the RCA partnered with CERN. Students worked in interdisciplinary teams to find solutions to a series of different global issues, addressing four key themes: Health and Wellbeing; Digital Disruption; Energy, Infrastructure and the Environment; and Social and Economic Disparity.

The four winning teams showcased their projects during the School of Design Work-in-progress Show, visited the Large Hadron Collider and presented their work at CERN in February 2019.

Discover their solutions on our dedicated project page: the Grand Challenge 2018/19.

The Grand Challenge 2016/17 with Lloyd's Register

Researching ship to ship transfers for the Lloyd's Register Grand Challenge

The Lloyd's Register Safety Grand Challenge in 2016/17 took on two water-related safety issues: ship-to-ship transfers and future city river safety.

Partnering with the RNLI, the Grand Challenge aimed to make the River Thames the safest river by the year 2030. RCA design students worked alongside academics and researchers to explore, design and prototype seven major ideas that bring multi-disciplinary innovative solutions to tackle design risk and safety on water.

Find out more about the Lloyd's Register Safety Grand Challenge.

Current partners

Logitech

With both parties noting clear streams of alignment in both their ethos and their strategic goals, Logitech have been working in partnership with the RCA since 2018 – including being a major donor to the College’s GenerationRCA campaign.

Logitech has supported the RCA Grand Challenge since 2019, giving students the ability to draw on the experience of Logitech designers and business leaders through mentorship and critiques, including that of Alastair Curtis, Logitech’s Chief Design Officer and RCA Alumnus (MA Industrial Design Engineering).

Extreme E

Extreme E is a radical new off-road electric motorsport series which sees eSUVs compete in the most remote corners of the planet impacted by climate change. For the Grand Challenge 2021/22, they provided the RCA with access to their ship, races and expertise.

Staff

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At work in the School of Design Workshops (photo: Richard Haughton)