By Celina Daigle

Universitas 21, is a network of top tier research institutions around the world. They provide many opportunities for students and professionals to collaborate on topics regarding research and community practices. In 2010, the University of Connecticut joined U21, which consists of about 26 universities in 15 countries around the globe today, giving students new opportunities to share their knowledge globally.  

U21 Real Impact on Society and Environment, or RISE, is an international student competition and showcase that has risen in the more recent years and is open for submissions from UConn students until Feb. 19, 2021. U21 RISE serves to challenge individuals and groups to pitch ideas related to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Each student or group will need to create a video and post their pitch and projects online, allowing for a global audience of researchers and companies to view their ideas and give professional feedback. UConn has been invited to nominate three or four student-led projects this year. 

Unlike past years, four $2,000 prizes will be rewarded to the overall winners of the 27 universities. 

Below is the submission of former UConn student Armin Rad (’20) who was selected in 2018 to represent the university at the U21 international competition.

According to Zahra Ali, the Director of Global Partnerships and Outreach in the Global Affairs office at UConn, “You get a little bit of seed funding for your project, but you also get access to this network of professionals and faculty that can provide you with insight and advice on how to better your project, it helps the students to take it to the next level.” 

Ali’s office handles the agreements related to anything abroad oriented, engaging in collaborations in research and student mobility as well as entrepreneurial contracts. She is the lead officer of UConn’s U21 program.

UConn requires that a written application be provided alongside the video pitch which will consist of each group’s main goals: making a great first impression and attracting supporters. It can be recorded in any language but must have English subtitles and cannot be longer than five minutes in length. The video needs to be an original piece of work that has not been made public anywhere else, and it needs to express which SDG, or SDGs, the project addresses.

All projects created by UConn students who are developing voluntary social enterprises or an environmental project that they want to get noticed and build up are more than welcome to be submitted. The project should be past the idea phase and be moving toward implementation with business plans, market research or other data to back up the efficacy of the idea. 

For more information, eligibility requirements and examples of past U21 RISE projects, visit the Global Partnerships website.

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