2024 student service design challenge - design a service that turns the tide for good

2024 student service design challenge - design a service that turns the tide for good

2024 student service design challenge - design a service that turns the tide for good

2024 student service design challenge - design a service that turns the tide for good

2024 student service design challenge - design a service that turns the tide for good



About this challenge

The Student Service Design Challenge is a global design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of designers. It's open to current students, and is supported by a group of trailblazing organisations, as part of their mission to involve young designers in finding people-centred and future-oriented services for people and the planet.

With this challenge, younger generations – over 50% of the people in the world are younger than 27 – take part in designing better products and services. That is why we invite design students to explore non-inclusive business models and outdated design processes, and think about what they would do to improve them.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 services: providing the right service to the people who need it, at the right time, in a convenient, affordable, easy and accessible way. We encourage the next generation of designers to use their creative power to shape corporate behaviour and pressure them to take a more globally conscious set of values seriously. By taking an inclusive approach to service design, we can develop exciting new service experiences that contribute value to people, the planet, and the public.


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 traineeship or design incubation prize
  • Showcase your work at international exhibitions


How it works

Are you an undergraduate or postgraduate student enrolled at a higher education institution, college, or university anywhere in the world? Then register, form a team of 4 to 7 students, read the 4 design briefs, and select the challenge you would like to dive into and design a service for. With that, you not only help the organisation achieve its goals and make the world a better place but also help our planet and society to thrive. The briefs are curated and provided by the Challenge partners; organisations committed to contributing towards a better world now and in the future.

Each team will be coached and mentored, join live and recorded classes/lectures, participate in insightful Q&A sessions and much more. This Challenge can be likened to an intensive master’s program, complementing students’ academic curriculum and requiring their weekly commitment throughout the competition. SSDC poses real-world challenges and lets teams of students get to know and use a myriad of tools, methods, and design approaches, such as ethnography, cultural probing, user journey mapping, brainstorming, prototyping, service blueprinting and business modelling. On top of these, SSDC includes at least 6 classes and 15 coaching sessions over the period of 5 months. And it’s all for free!

In the last round of the competition, shortlisted teams will have the opportunity to pitch their service concept and show their business potential to the Challenge jury. This online event is a unique opportunity for the teams to practise their skills and convince the jury to select them as the winners of the fifth edition of the Student Service Design Challenge.


This year’s theme

Some background information
In the rapidly evolving landscape of modern services, there is a pressing need to reassess their impact on individual and collective wellbeing. While many services are designed with good intentions, it is becoming increasingly evident that some inadvertently contribute to harm rather than fostering positive outcomes. It is crucial to acknowledge and address these issues, as they have far-reaching consequences on the mental, emotional, and even physical health of individuals.

Think about smart home systems and services and how to transform them into holistic solutions that encourage healthy behaviour, improve people’s wellbeing and uplift the human spirit. Or focus on the professional sphere, and how to reshape employee-related services to foster genuine work-life balance instead of causing more stress and burnouts. And in the critical domain of medicines and pharmaceutical services, our creativity can revolutionise the accessibility and understanding of healthcare. In that regard, we also should think about the use of ingredients and materials in relation to return, repair, recycling and any other ‘end-of-life’ services.

These are just a few examples of how to rethink service design and turn the tide. We invite students to transform vital services into pillars of holistic wellbeing where emerging technology and design converge to enhance lives and contribute to a healthier planet and happier society. Leveraging emerging technologies - such as AI - for good in design presents a transformative opportunity to bring about numerous positive outcomes that can profoundly benefit our natural habitats, society and humankind.

The Student Service Design Challenge 2024 calls on design students worldwide to embrace an extraordinary opportunity. In a world where cutting-edge technologies drive innovation, we challenge you to take the lead in shaping a future that thrives on positive change and design services that place wellbeing at the core. We invite you to join this year's Challenge, select one of the design briefs, and let your creativity spark transformative change and have a tangible impact on the world.


What are we looking for?

The challenge aims to push the boundaries of service design by encouraging a transdisciplinary approach to solving a prevalent global issue in a local context. We’re looking for ideas that will work now and in the future. Human-centred 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 as well as larger groups and communities, and be ready to scale and be adjusted for others as well. 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 real people’s contexts, their needs and habits. The solution you design works for real people, and has a positive influence on their behaviour.

Experience based

Your idea provides an impactful, rewarding and lasting user experience, both physical and online, by offering an engaging solution that creates an emotional and sensory connection with the users.

Society oriented

Your idea sees into the inclusive conception of design in which overlooked users, groups or communities, are taken into account to create positive change in society.

Technology enabled

Your idea is future-ready for the everchanging digital landscape, takes into account the responsible, secure and unbiased use of data, and uses technology wisely and for the good.

Circular and sustainable

Your idea aims to tackle a global challenge like climate change, access to care, gender equality, waste or pollution. It is regenerative for our world, and supports sustainable and planet-positive innovation by conscious consumption thinking, and 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 adjustable or scalable.


The briefs

This anniversary edition of the Student Service Design Challenge features 4 design briefs from Philips, Laerdal, ISDIN, and IKEA. These organisations, all committed to enhancing people’s health and wellbeing, share a fundamental aspect that aligns with the core principles of the SSDC: a genuine ambition to (re)design services that contribute value to people, society and the planet.


How to turn the tide on fragmented healthcare experiences?
Get to know the Philips challenge and help shaping the future of healthcare by designing for connectivity, convenience, and sustainability.


How to turn the tide to enable more sustainable lives at home?
Get to know the IKEA challenge and make sustainable living commonplace with a simple, easy-to-access service that can impact the many.


How to turn the tide in time-critical emergencies?
Get to know the Laerdal challenge and help improve the survival rate in your community by designing a service that facilitates early recognition and engages bystanders.


How to turn the tide on the packaging waste epidemic?
Get to know the ISDIN challenge and dive in the world of the health, beauty and skincare industry to design a service aimed at reducing packaging waste.

In the Challenge methodology (pdf) as well as the Challenge toolbox (zip file), you’ll find important information about the Challenge process, design theories and a selection of tools and methodologies to help you on your way.


Key dates


Round 1 - Research proposal 
December 24, 2023 - February 9, 2024

The design briefs will be available from December 24, 2023. Teams will have until February 9, 2024 to submit their 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 
March 1 - March 29, 2024

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 to empathise and learn.


Round 3 - Define phase 
April 1 - April 19, 2024

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 matter most. You will explicitly state the problem in relation to its local context and ecosystem.


Round 4 - Develop phase 
April 22 - June 14, 2024

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 service solution that meets the Challenge criteria.


Round 5 - Jury voting & Dragons’ Den 
June 17 - June 28, 2024

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 nominees (‘Shortlist’) from which the winners will be selected. The shortlisted teams will be invited to present their concept at a special Dragons’ Den Event to a panel of esteemed judges.


Winner announcement
July 5, 2024

The winners will be officially announced.



Each winning team from the four challenges will be awarded an 8-week design incubation program under the wing of their respective organisation. The program aims to help students enhance their winning concepts and support their growth as designers. Through this design incubation program, teams will have the opportunity to further develop their concepts with guidance from the organisation’s experts in various fields, such as service design, UX/experience design, business, marketing, development, technology/AI, innovation, and sustainability/circularity. The program will feature workshops, coaching sessions with experts, and a final presentation of their optimised service to evaluate its viability and feasibility for further development or incorporation.

From among these four challenge winners, the Jury will select the overall Gold winner of the 2024 Student Service Design Challenge. This team will be invited to present their winning service concept at this year's Dutch Design Week in October.


Coaching and judging

Each student design team will have regular (online) coaching and mentoring sessions. The coaches support the teams individually and as a group during the discovery phase (round 2), define phase (round 3) and development phase (round 4). Each team will also have a dedicated team coach, an IBM design strategist and practitioner. The team coaches will give each team feedback and provide help in specific areas. Former SSDC winners kick off each round with a plenary session in which they tell all teams on what to expect in that round, based on their own experiences as SSDC participants in previous editions.

At the end of round 4, each design team will submit their service concept. The Challenge jury will carefully review, discuss and validate each submission based on the challenge criteria. There will be a selection of nominees (‘Shortlist’) who will be able to pitch their concepts to a panel of esteemed judges at a Dragons’ Den event. The Challenge jury is composed of renowned design experts from various fields – related to human-centred (service) design, AI, circular design, and design-led innovation.


Enter competition 2025

Registration for the next edition will open in the last quarter of 2024. You can view the 2024 winners here.

logo SDD

Initiated and organized by SERVICE DESIGN COLLEGE.

In collaboration with


logo Philipslogo IKEAlogo Laerdal
logo IBMlogo Ellen MacArthur Foundationlogo ISDIN

Connect with us


Until when can teams register?
Registration closes on January 26, 2024.
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, preferably 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 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. Please read more about this in our Official rules before submitting.