Why not ham it, Janet?

UC President Janet Napolitano searches for solutions to world hunger.

UC Berkeley launched the 8th annual Big Ideas@Berkeley contest last week, a student innovation competition open to all UC undergraduates that offers a $10,000 prize to the winning project proposal.

The contest this year added a new category, global food systems, in response to UC President Janet Napolitano’s announcement of the UC Global Food Initiative earlier this year. Among the ten available categories is the food systems innovation, which is presented by the UC Global Food Initiative that was formed this year by President Napolitano. The contest allows students to submit their solutions to address challenges in food systems and come up with innovations to solve problems in the industry.

According to Big Ideas program manager Phillip Denny, students can submit a pre-proposal of up to five pages in length by Nov. 13, and after rounds of judging and working with mentors, students submit a final 15 page proposal due in March of next year.

In late April, the judges will choose between two and five award winners in each category and will be offered the opportunity and will offer them the opportunity to gain more resources and funding to make their innovation come to life. Denny also said the winners will be offered more than the cash prize.

“Big Ideas winners also have access to ongoing advising, mentorship and networking opportunities,” Denny said.

UC Office of the President spokesperson Shelly Meron said the contest was designed to encourage students to think creatively when addressing food sustainability problems.

“I hope students will get inspired to come up with creative solutions to some of the world’s most challenging issues around food security, nutrition and sustainability,” Meron said.

According to Denny, the contest will encourage students to transform their knowledge and individual passions into “real-world impact and social good.”

“[Big Ideas will] seed the innovation that results when students from various disciplines come together to solve real-world problems and … promote student autonomy, initiative and team work early in their careers,” Denny said.

Denny also said all students who enter the contest will be provided with support to turn their ideas into real life solutions.

“I’d also point out that, in addition to the funding, all students who enter the Big Ideas contest are provided with support to help them develop their ideas and turn them into actionable plans,” Denny said. “Throughout the pre-proposal application phase, students have access to writing and budgeting workshops, information sessions, drop-in and remote advising hours and extensive judging feedback.”

An online information session for students from other campuses will be on Tuesday, Oct. 14 from 3 to 4 p.m. and a live webcast can be seen at ustream.tv/channel/oct-14-big-ideas-info-session