iDesign Prize

The iDesign Prize is a competition presented by the Integrated Product Design program promoting the design of physical objects that solve a real world problem. 


The Integrated Product Design Master’s Program and Weitzman School are excited to announce the third year of the $50,000 iDesign Prize. The prize will give the chance for Penn student teams to successfully launch an innovative product design venture after graduation. We are looking for an innovative physical product that solves a real problem in the world and is supported by a holistic design, engineering and business plan.

Applications Closed for 2018


Submission Criteria

The competition is open to all Penn students from any school or discipline.

The iDesign Prize will prioritize the design of physical objects. The criteria for the competition are as follows:

  • A creative design that solves a real problem in the world
  • A designed tangible object that is critical to the business proposition
  • A commercially viable and socially valuable product
  • An innovative idea: either entirely new to the world, a fundamental improvement on something that exists, or something that is translated from one domain to another in a new way
  • A holistic offering, with fleshed out design, effective engineering strategy and specifications, and a compelling business case

A team might consist of 1 person, or as many people as desired. Teams are typically 2 - 5 people. The team must designate a teamleader, who must be a graduate or undergraduate degree-candidate student at the University of Pennsylvania. This team leader must lead the team and drive the product development and will be the only person with whom the iDesign Prize leadership staff will communicate.

iDesign Prize submission requirements are as follows. Please submit a pitch deck of no more than 20 slides that includes the following information:

  • your team members and how they contribute
  • the market problem/opportunity
  • the size of your target market
  • a description of your product or service and how it will meet this opportunity
  • an assessment of the competitive landscape
  • an articulation of the what makes your product innovative or unique
  • how your firm will generate revenues and profit
  • a development plan
  • a proposed budget for how you would use the $50,000 over the course of a year
  • a video pitch explaining your product story. See Kickstarter for product video ideas. Maximum 3 minutes.

Prize deadlines

  • Friday, March 16, 2018 – Initial Application Deadline. Submit proposal via submission link above.
  • Friday, March 30, 2018 – Notification of finalists
  • Monday, April 9, 2018 – Final pitch presentation and award ceremony (required to attend)

*This year there will be a people's choice award at the finals, so teams will have a chance to win an additional $5,000.

Finalists and Award Ceremony

Come watch our top student teams pitch their ideas to our esteemed panel of judges. After deliberation, a $50,000 prize will be awarded to the top team to launch their innovative venture.

Monday, April 9, 2018
Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, Fisher Fine Arts Building, 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia

Cocktail reception to follow.

Questions? Please email


The initial round will be judged by a combined team of overseers, faculty, and alumni. The final round will be judged by esteemed members of the product design field. 

The iDesign Prize is generously supported by Jay Abramson (W’83, L’86),
 Laurence Goldberg (W’89
), Mason Haupt (W’77), and Kevin Penn (W’83).


I’m not from Penn am I eligible to compete?
If you are not from Penn you are eligible to be a member on a team led by a Penn student. All team leads need to be a currently enrolled, degree-seeking Penn student.

Do I need to have a physical product to enter?
You do not need a physical product to enter but your business must include a physical product as a key component. You need to design and prototype the physical component of your business to be eligible to win the prize.

Whom can I email to ask more questions about this event?
Please email the prize committee here

I am concerned that someone is going to steal my idea?
Our judges are alums, or friends of the school, interested in supporting from an educational standpoint and they are simply not interested in stealing ideas.

This is a great opportunity to get feedback on your idea from professionals who wouldn’t otherwise have or take the time to look at it. We would encourage you to take advantage of it; but if you are that uncomfortable that your idea will be stolen, then you should not enter the competition.

Do I need to have a prototype to enter? Do I need to have a prototype for my final pitch?

No, you don't need one to end, but you do need one for the final.

What is the follow-up after the team has won? What deliverables are expected from the team in exchange for the $50,000?

The team will be expected to implement the business plan they presented in the competition. iDesign recognizes that changes will most likely be made to the product and business plan in the year following the prize and will be supported with mentorship as your venture evolves. The prize will be distributed in $25,000 increments with the first payment after the award announcement and the second payment in 6 months time after a check-in about venture goals and deliverables. The winning team will be expected to come present at the iDesign prize award ceremony the year after they receive the prices to share their experiences from the year.

Beyond money do you get mentorship and support?

Yes, the teams selected to present at the event will receive mentorship from the founders of the prize during the time between selection and their presentations.  These founders will provide mentorship and support to the winning team throughout the year.

Who is going to be on the panel?

The panel of judges will be announced in the next few weeks.

Will the prize be judged on its profitability forecast or on its social impact?

The winning team of the iDesign Prize will be a team that addresses both of these issues with a clear and thoughtful vision. Both aspects will be weighed equally.

Can a person be on multiple teams?

Yes, a person can be on multiple teams.

What time on the 9th will the final be?

The time of the final is 6:00pm.

Does my team need a working and/or tangible prototype for the final presentation?

Yes, you will need a tangible prototype for the final presentation. It does not need to be a fully functional prototype, but needs to be a works-like or looks-like prototype so judges can get a sense of what you hope to build with the winnings.

How is the submission sent?

Please submit the video and presentation via Submittable by March 16, 2018. Find the link here.

Does the team leader have to be graduating?

The team leaders do not need to be a graduating graduate student.