2021 student service design challenge - design future-oriented services and improve the lives of many

2021 student service design challenge - design future-oriented services and improve the lives of many

2021 student service design challenge - design future-oriented services and improve the lives of many

Powered by Philips Experience Design


About this challenge

This Student Service Design Challenge is a global design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of designers. It's open to current design students, and is initiated by Philips Experience Design, as part of its mission to involve young designers in finding people-centered and future-oriented services for people who need care.

With this challenge younger generations – over 50% of the people in the world are younger than 27 – take part in shaping the future of care, and designing for people's health, well-being and welfare. That is why we invite design students to explore current care situations and think about what they would do to improve them. Their unbiased, playful and uninhibited approach may lead to new, disruptive ideas, increasing the chance to deliver on the promise of value-based care: providing the right care to the people who need it, at the right time, in a convenient, affordable, easy and accessible way, and – if possible – at the lowest cost.


Why participate?

  • Work on design with impact
  • Dive into a real-life user case
  • Use your curiosity and empathy for real people
  • Work in a multidisciplinary team
  • Learn new design methodologies and skills
  • Get supervised and coached by professionals and experts in the field
  • Get the chance to win a monetary prize or a 10-week design-in-residence
  • Have your work presented in an international exhibition


Key dates


Round 1 - Research proposal 
December 28, 2020 - January 29

Each team will receive the design brief at the same day and time: Monday December 28, 2020. You will have until Friday January 29, 2021 to submit your research proposal. For that we encourage you to do field research, look around in your city, talk with people, and select the challenge you would like to tackle.


Round 2 - Discover phase 
February 15 - March 19

During this phase you will reassess your research proposal and challenge it in a fresh, profound way and in the light of your local context. In this round you are encouraged to conduct in-depth fieldwork in your own city: going where people live and receive care to empathise and learn.


Round 3 - Define phase 
March 22 - April 23

During this phase you will unpack and synthesise your empathy findings into compelling needs and insights. You will make sense of all the possibilities identified in the previous round and decide which matters most. You will explicitly state the problem in relation to its local context and ecosystem.


Round 4 - Develop phase 
April 26 - May 28

In this phase the idea generation process takes place. This phase marks a period of development where service solutions are conceived. This process of trial-and-error helps you to improve and refine your ideas into a concrete concept. Remember, ideation is all about collaboration and iteration. This round ends with your final concept submission, a full-fledged (product-) service solution that complies with all of the 5 criteria.


Round 5 - Jury voting 
May 31 - June 11

In this round all submissions will go through to a first round of judging where they will be carefully reviewed and discussed. There will be a selection of six nominees (‘Shortlist’) from which the winners will be selected.


Winners announcement
June 11

The winners will be officially announced at the Barcelona Design Week 2021, but will be informed confidentially on Friday June 11.



The student service design challenge is a chance for design students to practice a design process based on a real-life case, use their joint creativity, and get rewarded for that. As well as winning a prize, they can generate media exposure to kick-start their career, earn the esteem of their peers – and gain confidence in making the next steps towards becoming a design professional.


GOLD winners:
+ EUR 3,000 for the University


SILVER winners:
monetary prize of EUR 2,500
+ EUR 2,000 for the University


BRONZE winners:
monetary prize of EUR 1,500
+ EUR 1,000 for the University

Gold winners will earn a 10-week design-in-residence position at Philips Experience Design and will be able to further prototype and optimise their concept. They will be mentored and supported by a Philips expert team.

This challenge ends with a unique, international exhibition at the Dutch Design Week 2021. The winning concepts will also appear on various publications, will get press attendance, and attendance at other design events, such as the Barcelona Design Week.


The brief

The design brief as well as an additional toolbox with design theories and methodologies will be available via this website on January 4, 2021.

Some background information
The need to improve care is evident. The opportunities for change are myriad. Yet the path from today’s healthcare to tomorrow’s is unclear. Many care models are still very traditional and mostly transactional, too often treating clients as “just a number”. With a tendency to be reactive, disease-focused and episodic, current care services can be slow and fragmented. That is why the United Nations has defined a specific goal to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” (Sustainable Development Goal #3). This student service design challenge wants to contribute to this goal with the use of service design by next generation’s decisiveness, focus, passion and energy.

Service design is a people-centred approach to making sense of the current status quo, and coming up with solutions to improve it. Considering future-oriented innovations, such as human-oriented and digital technology, it can provide better answers to users’ needs, such as self-control, personalisation and convenience, and expectations such as easiness and even enjoyment.


What are we looking for?

The challenge aims to push the boundaries of service design and product innovation to solve a prevalent global care issue in a local context. We’re looking for ideas that will work now and in the future. Human-centered solutions that can start small and locally, but can be scaled up as well. Improving and enhancing people’s experiences.

A successful solution must work for individual users, including marginalised groups, and ready to scale through a human-oriented use of technology. Your submission will be evaluated according to the following criteria, that you can also find in the official rules of this challenge.


People centric

Your idea is based on people’s needs. The solution you design works for people who are (un)aware of their health issues.

Society oriented

Your idea sees into the inclusive conception of design in which user groups who are marginalised are taken into account.

Technology enabled

Your idea is data-driven and future-ready for the ever-changing digital landscape. It provides an impactful user experience.

Circular and sustainable

Your idea supports sustainable innovation by favouring ethical behaviour as well as empowering users.

Business viable

Your idea is based on a service-centred business model, able to launch as a viable service business and value proposition as well as scalable.


Coaching and judging



Each design team will have two-weekly, virtual coaching sessions with the challenge coach. The coach will support the team during the discovery phase (round 2), define phase (round 3) and development phase (round 4) of the challenge. At the end of rounds 1, 2 and 3, a group of so called assessment coaches will give each team feedback and provide help on specific areas. This Design Critique might take place virtually or physically, depending on the location of the design team. All coaches are experts in their fields.


Frank Kolkman will be your challenge coach. Frank is a seasoned experimental designer. Trying to combine his curiosity towards the inner workings of things with analytical thinking and intuitive making, Frank aims to challenge our understanding of current and near-future technologies and their socio-political implications. He recently coached student teams based on the Design Probes method to gain insight into the future of healthcare. This resulted in the exhibition "Chronic Health, if not us, then who?”. Frank holds a Bachelor’s degree in Product Design from ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem (NL), and a Master’s degree in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art in London (UK).

Gerhard Pfau will be the coordinator of of the assessment coaches. Gerhard is an IBM Distinguished Designer leading Enterprise Design Thinking in Europe. He works with IBM teams and with clients to help them understand, experience and leverage Enterprise Design Thinking to create innovative solutions with outstanding user experience. Gerhard loves designing experiences for people and deeply understands technology. The latter made him become a leader of the IBM Academy. Gerhard has lead the team who created the studio in Boeblingen, Germany. As design lead for IBM Studios Boeblingen he is mentoring and nurturing the local design community to ensure great outcomes for users. Prior to that Gerhard was design lead in IBM's Smarter Process portfolio, and lead architect for human-centric business process management.


The members of the jury will be announced before December 18, 2020.


Enter competition 2021 

This service design challenge aims to support human-centred design students with the start of their careers. If you and your team members are studying at an official university, academy or college in the 2020-2021 academic year, and you would like to use your creativity to contribute to next year's challenge, we invite you to already register for the upcoming competition. Don't worry; the entry process is fairly simple.

To register your team, fill in the form below. Your team must consist of a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 7 members, and you will all need an email address issued by your university, academy or college. So make sure you have one! Only one registration per team is needed. After this first step, we will make an inventory of all team members and you will receive additional information about the challenge.

(Must be issued by your current educational institution)

Initiated and powered by Philips Experience Design
and co-organized with SERVICE DESIGN DAYS, in
collaboration with IBM and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


Connect with us


Until when can teams register?
Teams can register throughout January 2021, but will have until Friday January 29 2021, 11:59:59 PM CET to submit their research proposal(s). We expect that the preparation for a proposal will take one week.
Can I enter the challenge alone?
You cannot participate as an individual student. You need to be part of a team of 4 to 7 members.
Is there any limitation on the number of members in a team?
Yes. The team needs to have at the least 4 team members and no more than 7 team members. All team members have to be students.
I am not a Service Design student. Can I enter the challenge?
Yes, you can. You need to be part of a multidisciplinary team with at least one Design student.
Is there an age limit for entering the challenge?
No, there are no age restrictions, as long as you meet the criteria about student/recent graduate status.
Can a team submit more than one research proposal?
Yes a team can submit more than one research proposal, but you should submit each proposal separately.
What happens to our ideas, materials, etc.?
As a participant in the challenge you will retain intellectual property ownership of all your challenge submission ideas. There is no transfer of intellectual property rights to any third party as a condition of participating in the challenge. Please read our Official rules before submitting.