Competition Overview

The White Space Design Challenge will prioritize the research for unmet or unarticulated needs. The criteria for the competition are as follows:

  • Validated need from in-depth exploratory research, analysis, synthesis and a proof of concept product, service or technology solution.

A team should consist of 4 to 6 students with 1 sponsored professor.  The team must designate a team leader, who is either a graduate or undergraduate full-time student from a midwest university.  The team leader must drive the research and will be the only person with whom the White Space Design Challenge leadership staff will communicate.  

White Space Design Challenge submission requirements are as follows.  

Phase I

First, all students must sign up via our submission form. In January 2020, all teams will be invited to Northwestern University for a Kickoff Design Workshop hosted by the Segal Design Center. Teams will hear a presentation from Northwestern professors and participate in demo activities. Following the workshop, teams will have six weeks to submit a product idea report that includes the following information:

  • Research:

    • methods used to frame and reframe problem

    • deep understanding of existing user and business solutions

    • intellectual property opportunity and requirements

  • Analysis:

    • collection and organization of quantitative and qualitative data

  • Synthesis:

    • identified insight(s) on unmet or unarticulated market

    • level of certainty for commercial viability and demand understanding

    • iteration journey from prototype testing

  • Proof of concept:

    • innovative or unique offering

Submissions will be due February 16, 2020. PDMA judges will then evaluate the ideas and select finalists to continue to Phase II.

Phase II

Once finalists have been notified, they will be receive seed money and a PDMA mentor to help them build a prototype of their design. Teams will have another six weeks to begin and finalize their prototypes to present at the final presentation in April.

In April 2020, PDMA will host a conference in Chicago for all finalist teams to present their projects and a winner will be selected. In addition, there will be guest speakers and various networking opportunities with professionals from the area.