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Apply your academic knowledge to real-world situations in the U21/PwC Innovation Challenge 2022!

McMaster PhD and Masters students (course- and research-based) have an opportunity to showcase their critical thinking skills and share their ideas with leaders in graduate career development – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and its clients – in this online competition.

The Challenge, organized by Universitas 21 (U21) and partner PwC, allows students to respond to contemporary work-related issues (set by PwC) in a three-minute video. Videos are judged by PwC and its clients.

The 2022 Innovation Challenge

Phase 1:

We invite any registered McMaster graduate students to submit a 3-minute response via video to the following challenge question:

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.   

Phase 2:

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.

Full details can be found in the attached handbook, also available online.

How does the competition work?

  • A preliminary adjudication will take place at McMaster and the top video(s) will be entered into the U21/PwC competition.
    • All adjudication decisions are final.
    • McMaster students competing in the Challenge must upload their finished videos to this MacDrive folder.
    • The competition is open to current (registered) graduate students only at McMaster.
    • Students should review the Innovation Challenge rules on the U21 website, including the section on Intellectual Property, before filming their video and submitting. You will also find winning submissions from an earlier Innovation Challenge available for viewing.

McMaster University can submit 2 videos in the U21/PwC competition. Students should not submit videos directly to the U21/PwC competition.

Innovation Challenge Prizes

There will be one winning team selected from the final pitches to the judging panel. The winning team will be awarded with highly rated bespoke career coaching with the PwC Academy. All elements of the competition will take place online.

What’s new this year?

There will be two phases for this year’s competition. Two McMaster winners will be selected in phase 1 and advance to phase 2.

Why take part?

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. The videos are judged by PwC and their clients, who are leaders in graduate career development.

How to take part

You will need to submit a 3-minute video via your university in response to the challenge outlined above. Prospective entrants can refer to the competition website for further details on how to enter and prepare for the competition.

Download the 2022 Handbook


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.

Rules for submission

  • Entries to be submitted for final adjudication are limited to 2 per U21 institution and should be submitted to U21 via an agreed university contact. Students should not submit their videos directly to U21.
  • Submissions must be in MP4 video format
  • 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.
  • Group round winners and runners up will be expected to provide a report after the competition to reflect on their experience.

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 (LinkedIn, 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 this competition. U21 and PwC have the right to ask a student to withdraw from the competition if these conditions are not met.

What is Universitas 21 (U21)?

U21 is a global network of research-intensive universities, focusing on collaboration and global knowledge exchange.

Review the U21 website for more about the Innovation Challenge. If you are a McMaster student with questions about the competition at McMaster, please contact


  • Deadline for video submissions: 11:59 PM Wednesday 21 September 2022
  • Phase 1 winners to be announced: Week commencing October 3 2022
  • Phase 2 team challenge groups announced: Monday 10 October 2022
  • Team challenge pitches to take place: December 5 – 9 2022
  • Winning group to be announced: Week commencing December 12 2022
U21 PwC Submission Form - 2022
**Please note that this competition is for graduate students only**

Please upload your video file here and then include the file name of your video in the field above. File format must be .MP4

File Name Example: PwC_jane.smith.MP4