The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 by the publishers of Tech Briefs magazine to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has attracted more than 15,000 product design ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs, and students in 100+ countries worldwide. The contest’s principal sponsors are COMSOL and Mouser Electronics, with Analog Devices and Intel as supporting sponsors.
Category sponsors include FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology, Maplesoft, and Zeus. The contest is produced by SAE Media Group.
The Contest opens for entries on March 1, 2021 and closes July 1, 2021 (referred to herein as the Contest Live Period). Entries must be received by 11:59 pm EDT on July 1, 2021. For your entries to qualify for consideration, you must meet the following requirements:
- Complete the Official Entry Form and upload at least one image with your entry.
- Choose one of seven categories for your entry:
- Aerospace & Defense — Product innovations with applications in the aerospace, aviation, and/or defense markets.
- Automotive/Transportation — Products that enable movement of people and goods from one place to another.
- Consumer Product Design — Products that increase quality of life in the workplace, at home, or while traveling.
- Electronics/Sensors/IoT — Products that improve computing, communications, sensing, test, and other fields that rely on advances in electronic components, boards and systems; products that enable an interconnected world – the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
- Manufacturing/Robotics/Automation — Products that speed, improve, and/or automate work, manufacturing, and research & development (R&D).
- Medical — Products that improve the efficiency/quality of healthcare and save or improve lives.
- Sustainable Technologies/Future Energy — “Green” products that reduce dependence on non-renewable energy resources, as well as products designed for other purposes using environmentally friendly materials or manufacturing processes.
- Provide a description of your entry (up to 500 words) in the form of a technical abstract, in English. Your description should cover how the entry works, what makes it novel, how it would be produced, and where it would be applied. Entries will be judged on these criteria:
- Innovation (50% of score) — How is the design novel? Does it represent an important advance over the current state of the art?
- Feasibility/Manufacturability (25%) — How easy would it be to implement? Could it be cost-effectively manufactured/produced? Has it been demonstrated to work? (Please note: prototypes are NOT required.)
- Marketability (25%) — Does the idea have practical applications? Is there a well-defined, significant market for its use?
- Upload at least one (but no more than three) visual illustrations. File type options:
- PDF(single-page), GIF, JPEG, PNG. The visual illustration(s) should complement your entry description and can be drawings, photos, charts, or CAD images. File size should be kept under 500kb per illustration.
Entries submitted without an illustration automatically will be disqualified, no exceptions. We cannot accept PowerPoint presentations, white papers, or other documents as illustrations. All descriptive text should be entered in the space provided on the Entry Form. Text on illustrations should be limited to captions or call outs.
Video: You also have the option of submitting video to support your entry (limited to one video per entry). Maximum length: three minutes. First, upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo. Then, when you complete the Entry Form, provide the link to the video where indicated on the form. We cannot accept any video files by e-mail. Video is optional.
Prototypes: It is NOT required to have a prototype of your product. However, if a working prototype does exist, please indicate this where asked on the Entry Form. Entrants are encouraged to include an illustration of their prototype with the entry materials.
If you are having difficulty submitting your entry, please contact us.
To select the Grand Prize and Category winners, and to determine the Top 100 entries overall, SAE Media Group will recruit a minimum of 24 judges from its editorial board of readers. The judging panel also will be open to one representative from each Primary Sponsor. The judges are prohibited from entering the contest themselves or evaluating entries from any organization at which they are employed. All decisions of the judges will be final.
The Top 10 Most Popular Entries will be decided by the voting of registered users of the contest Web site. Voting will be open until September 10, 2021 (11:59 pm EDT). These votes will have no bearing on the selection of Grand Prize or Category winners, or the Top 100 Entries. Each registrant is allowed one vote per entry. Votes will not count if the registrant does not accurately complete the required fields on the registration form or if the registrant attempts to enter fraudulent data. The Contest Administrators will adjust the vote counts at any point in the competition to discount votes from registrants who have not registered properly or who attempt to vote for a single entry multiple times (including any attempt to use e-mail aliases). Voter registration data will be kept in strict confidence and used only for verification, to ensure a fair voting process.
Winners will be announced during a live Webcast, date and time TBA. The grand prize and category winners will be invited to an awards dinner scheduled for November in New York City.
RESTRICTIONS AND NOTIFICATIONS
- No purchase necessary to enter or win. There is no cost to enter the Contest.
- The odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries. Sponsors cannot predict the odds of winning as they have no prior knowledge of the number of entrants who will participate.
- Entrants must be 18 years of age or older. For team entries, the team leader must be at least 18 years of age but there is no age requirement for other team members. Any prizes will be awarded to the team leader. Employees and the immediate families of the Primary Sponsors, their parent companies, subsidiaries, representatives, and advertising/promotion agencies are not eligible and prohibited from entering.
- The Contest is open worldwide, except where prohibited or restricted by national or local law.
- Entries may be submitted by an individual or a design team. Team members may also submit entries on their own, provided those entries are substantially different than entries submitted by the team.
- The entrant, whether an individual or a team, may submit multiple different entries to the Contest, and may submit multiple entries per category, but each entry must be a substantially different design idea. If the same design idea is submitted more than once, those entries will be disqualified.
- Entries must be submitted electronically per the instructions on the Entry Form.
- Entries must be for product designs that either: 1) are not yet in commercial production at the time of entry, or (2) were introduced to the commercial market within the last 12 months of entry date. Products that have been commercially available for more than 12 months at the time of entry are not eligible.
- By entering, entrants warrant that to the best of their knowledge: (1) their entry is an original idea; (2) they are authorized by the owner of the design to enter the design in the contest; and that (3) the design does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any third party.
- The entrant or the entrant’s company, whichever applies, retains ownership of the design ideas submitted for the Contest.
- Contest Sponsors shall not be liable to an entrant for the commercialization of ideas that have been independently developed without the use of the entrant’s submission.
- Submitted materials may not contain any third-party created content (such as third-party logos or other trademarks, copyrighted material, or material that is subject to other third-party proprietary rights including but not limited to music, images, videos, software etc.), without the written authorization or license from the content owner.
- Entrants shall have the option to display all or part of their entry information on the contest web site during the Contest Live Period. If they elect not to do so and prefer to “hide” their entry from public view, their submission will be maintained in confidence by the Primary Sponsors until the winners are announced. If the entry is selected as a Grand Prize, Category, or Popular Vote winner, or as an Honorable Mention, the entry will be made public when the winners are announced.
- Entrants grant the Sponsors permission to contact them using the information provided on the contest entry form, including name, address, email address, and phone number.
- Sponsors are not responsible for any expenses incurred by entrants in connection with participation in the Contest and will not return any materials submitted to the Contest.
- The Sponsors reserve the right to disqualify entries that are frivolous or fail to meet the entry requirements as described in these Official Rules. The Sponsors also reserve the right to remove any entry information or comments from the Contest web site that they deem objectionable or obscene.
- The Contest may be terminated at the Primary Sponsors’ sole discretion.
- Prizes cannot be substituted or redeemed for cash except at the Sponsors’ sole discretion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value if a prize cannot be awarded as described for any reason.
- All federal, state, local, municipal, income, and other taxes (if any) are the sole responsibility of the winners.
- Any prize won by a team will be distributed to the team leader designated on the entry form.
- Entrants are authorized to and approve the use of images created from entry visuals for use in marketing materials to be produced by the Primary Sponsors and their assigns, including use on web sites. Entrants are authorized to and do grant the Primary Sponsors, their affiliates, and assigns the right to use, reproduce, or incorporate in any manner whatsoever all or any portion of the aforementioned images. Entrants represent and warrant that the materials are owned by them or their company free and clear of any liens or claims of any third-party, that they have a legal right to grant the permission herein given on behalf of themselves, their company, or a third party, if appropriate. Furthermore, the entrant agrees that he/she/they, or, if the design is owned by his/her/their company, that his/her/their company will indemnify and hold harmless the Primary Sponsors, their affiliates, assigns, agents, and employees, against liability should any third-party claim that the use of the materials by the Primary Sponsors, their affiliates, assigns, agents, and employees violates any right of such third party to the materials.
- Entrants agree to abide by the terms of these Official Rules and by the decisions of the Primary Sponsors/judges, which are final and binding on all matters pertaining to this Contest. By entering, they agree to waive any right to claim ambiguity or error in these Official Rules. Except where prohibited by law, the winners consent to the use of their name and/or likeness by the Primary Sponsors for advertising and publicity purposes without further compensation. Each entrant agrees that the Primary Sponsors and other Sponsors of the Contest and their parent companies, agents, representatives, affiliates, and employees will have no liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses, or damages of any kind resulting from his/her participation in the Contest or resulting from the acceptance of prizes.
- The Contest Sponsors assume no responsibility for any problems or technical malfunction of any communications network or lines, computer systems, servers, software, Internet service providers, or e-mail systems; failure of any entry to be received on account of technical problems or incomplete, late, lost, damaged, illegible or misdirected electronic communications; or any combination thereof, including damage to entrants’ or anyone else’s computer equipment related to or resulting from participation or downloading of any materials in this Contest.
- Participation in the Contest constitutes an agreement by each entrant, including all members of a team in the case of a team entry, to be bound by these Official Contest Rules. Sponsors reserve the right to disqualify persons found tampering with or otherwise abusing any aspect of this Contest as solely determined by the Sponsors. In the event the Contest is compromised by non-authorized human intervention, tampering or other causes beyond the reasonable control of Sponsors that corrupt or impair the administration, security, fairness or proper operation of the Contest, the Primary Sponsors reserve the right to suspend, modify or terminate the Contest. Caution: Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of this Contest is a violation of criminal and civil laws, and should such an attempt be made, Sponsors reserve the right to seek damages from any such entrant to the fullest extent permitted by law.
- By entering the Contest, the entrant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of or in connection with the Contest, or any prizes awarded, shall be resolved individually without resort to any form of class action; (2) any claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred in entering the Contest, but in no event attorney’s fees; and (3) under no circumstances will any entrant be permitted to obtain any award for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental or consequential damages and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased and any other damages, other than damages for actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred in entering the contest.
- The Sponsors are not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by web site users or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest.
IN NO EVENT WILL THE CONTEST SPONSORS, THEIR LICENSEES, AND OR THEIR PARENTS, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES AND RELATED COMPANIES, THEIR ADVERTISING OR PROMOTION AGENCIES OR THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS, BE RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR LOSSES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES ARISING FROM ACCESS TO, OR USE OF, THIS WEB SITE, ELECTRONIC OR COMPUTER MALFUNCTIONS, OR ENTRANT PARTICIPATION IN THIS CONTEST, EVEN IF SPONSORS HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, EVERYTHING PROVIDED FOR THE CONTEST INCLUDING ANY SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.
TIPS FOR ENTRANTS
The best entries clearly and concisely answer the following questions and are accompanied by an illustration that complements and illuminates the text:
- What problem does your design idea solve?
- What are the potential benefits?
- How does your design work?
- How is your idea novel or an improvement on what is currently available in the marketplace?
- Where would this idea be applied?
- What is the market potential?
- How would your product be manufactured?
- How would the production cost compare with products already in the marketplace?
The best design ideas will serve a public good by:
- Improving quality of life
- Preventing or reducing injuries
- Saving lives
- Improving public safety and security
- Saving time and money
- Improving productivity
- Automating tedious tasks
- Offering alternative energy solutions
- Reducing consumption of natural resources
- Reducing waste
- Creating jobs
- Bolstering the economy
- Enabling other product improvements
TOP 3 REASONS ENTRIES ARE DISQUALIFIED FROM THE CONTEST
- No illustration provided. An illustration must accompany your entry and provide a visual representation of your idea.
- Entry description is too short. While you do not need to submit the max 500 words, your description should be of sufficient length to describe how the invention works, what makes it novel, how it would be produced, and where it would be applied. If it is only a few sentences, chances are it’s too short. We suggest you review last year’s winning entries to get an idea of length and what you should cover.
- Illustrations submitted in an unacceptable format and/or with an excessive amount of text. As spelled out in the Rules, acceptable file types include PDF (single-page), GIF, JPEG, or PNG. If you attempt to submit a Word or PowerPoint document, your entry will not be accepted. And as noted above, text on illustrations should be limited to captions or call-outs.
Avoid these pitfalls and save time/effort!
Grand Prize (1)
First Place (7)
Most Popular Entries (10)
The top ten most popular entries (determined through online voting) will receive a magnetic-inspired prize package courtesy of Nanoport, featuring a TacHammer Development Kit, Magnet Kit, or Nanodots Magnetic Constructors.
Certificates of Achievement (100)
The 100 highest scoring entries (based on the judges’ evaluation) will get a certificate of achievement suitable for framing.
The grand prize and category winners will be invited to an awards dinner (scheduled for November) at the famous Water Club in New York City where they will be presented with a special plaque and have the opportunity to speak about their innovation.