Winner announcement


Winner announcement


Student design team Solace (Carnegie Mellon University, USA) wins Student Service Design Challenge 2023


Student design team Solace (Carnegie Mellon University, USA) wins Student Service Design Challenge 2023

What if we could design services that contribute to a happier society? Student teams from design schools and universities worldwide dove into this challenge and worked for over 5 months using their creativity and skills to design people-centric and planet-positive services to safeguard wellbeing. The jury selected Carnegie Mellon University’s team Solace as the 1st prize winner of this 4th edition of the Student Service Design Challenge.

In January 2023, over 90 teams applied to the 2023 Student Service Design Challenge. After a rigorous selection process, 20 finalist teams received the outstanding scores needed to continue in the competition tasked with developing full-fledged service solutions using a structured double diamond approach.

This year, teams focused on improving individual, societal and planetary wellbeing, envisioning and designing services to enhance personal wellbeing and resilience as well as contribute positively to a collective happiness: among people, in our workplaces, schools, communities, cities and planet to ensure better lives for present and future generations.

The teams represented over 20 universities worldwide and 15 different countries. From China and South Korea to Canada and Chile, the 2023 competition spanned the globe, aiming to engage the next generation of designers in envisioning and creating people-centred services that improve and safeguard wellbeing. An essential aspect of the challenge is that teams must address issues within their local contexts, finding readily perceived solutions to existing problems in their surroundings.


The proposals put forward by the teams focused on improving the wellbeing of immigrants, mothers, bullied children, isolated elders, and people on the autism spectrum. The topics covered include palliative care, safety, nutrition, work-life balance, financial stability, and community building, among others.

After assessing all final submissions, the jury awarded team Solace from Carnegie Mellon University the 1st prize, team Balance from the Delhi Technological University the 2nd prize, and team Return from Pontífica Universidad Católica de Chile the 3rd prize. The jury also awarded an honourable mention to team Bond from University of Arts London for their innovative service concept. The Jury: “Our task was challenging because of the diversity of topics, approaches and results. We recognise the unique value and contributions in all the projects, and effectively, we believe all teams are winners, having taken wellbeing seriously and creating a happier society. Students have demonstrated they are catalysts for positive change and are confident all have a promising future in their creative endeavours. This has been a transformative experience and will echo in the present and future impact they will have in the lives of the people. The journey doesn't end here.”

Winners SSDC2023


GOLD winner:
Design Incubator prize (incl. EUR 3,000) + EUR 1,500 for the University

Solace - Empowering life’s transitions

The jury selected the service concept ‘Solace - Empowering life’s transitions’ from team Solace (Carnegie Mellon University, USA) as the Gold winner. Their prize includes a 10-week Design Incubator program to further develop their concept. Solace is a digital service supporting caregivers of terminally ill loved ones. It facilitates connections with care teams, provides personalised wellbeing toolkits, and fosters community networks easing their burden and empowering them throughout their caregiving and bereavement journey.

Team Solace: "We initially explored a lot of broad topics, but after taking time to mull everything over, we realised that we are connected on a deeper level. Our shared experiences with family members and close friends who have been caregivers sparked a personal connection. We all know how much caregivers often ignore their own well-being while caring for their loved ones. It became clear that the spotlight should be on the well-being of caregivers. We felt that this thought-provoking topic was both risky to tackle and the most fulfilling, if done right."


"The project truly impressed us with its innovative and impactful approach. The team conducted thorough research, demonstrating a deep understanding of the problem at hand and considering similar existing systems. They had extensive interactions with stakeholders, showcasing their commitment to understanding the caregivers’ true needs. Team Solace’s service concept addresses a significant social challenge that is often overlooked, highlighting its dedication to making a positive difference. The design combines a focus on the individual with the involvement of the community. Beyond its innovativeness, it considers affordability and accessibility, ensuring it can benefit a wide range of individuals."


Team Solace is made up of four graduate students in Human-Computer Interaction and Product Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from different backgrounds, such as architecture, product design, engineering, and design strategy, they are committed to bringing a human-centred approach to solving complex problems within the built and digital environment.

"Our team has gained invaluable knowledge through this challenge, which has proven to be a remarkable learning experience. From the inception of identifying the problem to the exploratory nature of the submissions, we have developed a deep understanding of the challenges faced by caregivers of terminally ill loved ones. The guidance provided by our challenge coach and mentors has been valuable in analysing our research. The meticulously designed challenge handbook served as an exceptional resource for our team, enabling us to delve into various research methods and techniques. Its comprehensive content facilitated our exploration and provided insights into different approaches."

Team Solace Team members - Dina Kaganer, Saisri Akondi, Aman Sinha and Daisy Dai


SILVER winner:
monetary prize of EUR 2,000
+ EUR 1,000 for the University


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

Sambhav - Financial wellbeing of slum dwellers

The Jury awarded the Silver prize to team Balance (Delhi technological University, India) for their service solution Sambhav. Sambhav aims to improve the wellbeing of ragpickers in Indian slums by providing upskilling,resources, and a supportive community. It offers reliable waste collection services to households, which makes waste procurement safer and consistent for rag pickers while creating a sustainable supply chain of materials for recycling companies.

Team Balance: "We were determined to ideate the best possible solution for improving the wellbeing of slum dwellers, and we planned to achieve this by keeping them in the loop while making decisions, making sure we listened to their voices and interests, putting them and their problems at the centre of our ideation process."


"The jury compliments the team for addressing a real, compelling, and relevant social issue with an ambitious service solution. It was beautifully brought to life, through careful research, which was inclusive and well presented. We loved the documentary style video. We thought it took a serious stance for a neglected group and presented a tangible, physical solution to solve it. This stepped us outside the realm of experiential services. It was one of the most ambitious services, so thank you for presenting a solution with such a huge scope and potential impact."


Team Balance is a group of 5 bachelor students studying Interaction Design at Delhi Technological University. They are committed to empathising and building genuine relationships with local underserved and traditionally neglected communities, improving their wellbeing while also adding value to their lives.

"Participating in the Challenge was a transformative journey for our team. Engaging with slum dwellers fostered empathy and meaningful connections that fueled our personal growth as we iterated and built on our approach to have a positive change. This experience emphasised lifelong learning, adaptability, and the power of collaboration for personal and collective growth."

Team Balance Team members - Ritwik Raj, Tanmay Wadhankar, Rahul Dobhal, Veshwas Verma and Tanuj Narain


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

Case: Happiness - Collaborative learning for kids and their families

The Jury awarded the Bronze prize to team Return (Pontífica Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile) for their service solution Case: Happiness, a service with a collaborative learning methodology that provides teachers with resources to guide activities based on the concept of looking for happiness, inviting children to talk and interact with their families while working on social-emotional themes.

Team Return: "We are very happy and proud to have worked on a topic that we are passionate about and that is relevant in our context. We know that through design, we can contribute to the education of children in Chile from a much broader perspective than the traditional one, including the key actors who are their families in this experience. By doing so, we aim to have a closer impact, addressing topics that contribute to the well-being of both children and adults in their lives."


"Team Return’s thoughtful and empathetic project, Case: Happiness, addressing the education and social wellbeing issues within Chilean families and their schools has very much impressed the jury. We appreciate the activity-based education concept, which is designed to connect the school and home contexts for children in a way that recognises the unique challenges facing parents, including gaps in their own education. The team showed a deep understanding of the ecosystem and was intentional about not overusing technology. The jury was equally inspired by their creative and visceral storytelling both in the written submission and in their oral presentation."


Team Return is a group of four Integral Design Students at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. They are committed to using their service design skills to develop meaningful and impactful solutions that truly enhance the human experience and improve the world around them.

"The process of SSDC2023 was challenging, but it was worth it. It prompted us to reach out to schools, experts, foundations, and families in order to better understand our context. Throughout our research, we applied different methodologies and forms of participation that ended up surprising us and providing us with insights that we wouldn't have been able to gain otherwise. This experience allowed us to live service design as a way to connect and explore new realities, enriching us as individuals and as designers."

Team Return Team members - Teresita Reymond, Magdalena Montes Valdivieso, Trinidad Borghero and Sofia Lira Santic

Honourable mention

Honourable mention

The following concept stood out exceptionally in at least one of the main Challenge criteria and deserved a special mention and recognition from the Jury.

Kangaroo - Play, connect, and explore

The jury awarded an 'honourable mention’ to team Bond (University of Arts London, UK) for their service solution Kangaroo. The Jury commends their ability to connect the dots, and tackle fundamental human needs by providing a service with resources that already exist. Their grounded research narrows down the locality and population of single parents, and proposes a solution that goes beyond the more obvious digital platform solutions and really contributes to people's wellbeing, both children and parents, within the urban environment.

Team Bond: "A demographic that is in particular danger of loneliness is single parents. We found that single parents are very likely to be lonely due to the combination of the life changes that parenthood brings, financial struggle and the stigma attached to single parenthood. All these factors make building satisfying relationships very challenging."


"We found the idea of a rental pop-up childcare service that not only provides support for single parents but also serves as accessible and judgement-free spaces for connection and networking very innovative and relevant. By repurposing existing locations, they have created a unique environment where single parents can share their experiences, challenges, and successes, and foster opportunities for mutual aid. Their combination of technology and physical solutions enables the creation of flexible spaces that facilitate the development of meaningful relationships. Furthermore, their approach serves as a valuable blueprint for the establishment of similar spaces in diverse communities and for different target groups in need of support and connection."


Team Bond is a multicultural group of service design students from University of the Arts London who are eager to find innovative solutions to foster connection and enhance the overall wellbeing of Londoners. They believe that by fostering strong bonds between individuals, they can positively impact the whole community.

Team Bond Team members - Aniruddha Mahanta, Alexander Rabinovich, Loretta M., Sourabh Srivastava, Rui Zhang and Junxiao Wu

Prizes and recognition

The 4 students of team Solace earn a 10-week participation in the Design Incubator program to further prototype and optimise their concept plus a monetary prize of EUR 3,000 (+ EUR 1,500 for the University). During those weeks they will be mentored and supported by various experts from Challenge partners.

Silver and Bronze winners receive respectively a monetary prize of EUR 2,000 (+ EUR 1,000 for the University) and of EUR 1,000 (+ EUR 500 for the University). Most notably, the winning teams and their service design solutions will be highlighted and showcased online.

Proprietary rights - The Student Service Design Challenge is not liable for any copyright or trademark infringement on the part of the entrants and is not responsible for obtaining, protecting, or verifying any intellectual property rights relating to the submission material. It is the responsibility of the student design teams to use their own materials and designs, and clearly highlight references. They have been advised and required to obtain third party consents where required by law or by best ethical practices. If you discover that in the submitted materials and designs copyrighted items have been unintentionally used, we ask you to contact us by email. We will ask the concerning student team to delete those items.

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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.