BETTER ENERGY BY DESIGN is an international student competition, held by BE OPEN and our partners. It is open to students, graduates and young professionals who specialise in the fields of art, design, architecture and media.

The competition aims to encourage creation of innovative solutions by younger creatives, for the more prosperous and sustainable future.

The focus of the competition is the United Nations’ SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a dedicated and stand-alone goal on energy, SDG 7, calling to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all". Energy lies at the heart of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all will open a new world of opportunities for billions of people through new economic opportunities and jobs, empowered women, children and youth, better education and health, more sustainable, equitable and inclusive communities, and greater protections from, and resilience to, climate change.

To attain the UN SDGs we need to think out of box the goals. We need creative thinking – design thinking – and creative action. Design has a crucial role to play as an instrument or vehicle for the implementation of the UN SDGs.

BE OPEN and all of the stakeholders involved in this international competition programme, strongly believe that creativity is integral in the shift to sustainable existence.

The objectives of “Better Energy by Design” are to raise awareness about SDG7: Clean and Affordable Energy and contribute to achieving it via recognizing, showcasing and promoting the best design ideas and projects that embody and can advance the principles, aims and implementation of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Achievement of SDG7 is impossible without ensuring that a growing number of households, communities and production companies use green energy technologies. Therefore participants of “Better Energy by Design” are asked to reflect on “What can be done to prompt breakthrough of clean energy technologies into our lives?” Whether you propose to make those more affordable, more modern or more appealing to energy users – it’s you call.


Projects for the Competition must relate to one of the following submission categories:

  1. Powered by Renewables: development and use of renewable energy can improve the energy security and significantly help the environment, and yet the share of these technologies is very small in our everyday life. Competition participants are offered to share their ideas on how renewables could be integrated in city or rural landscapes and become “new normal” for more people

  2. Save More Energy: most people never think about how much energy they waste when they have too many unused devices connected to an electricity grid or when they don’t switch their computers off leaving the office. In this category competition participants are welcomed to submit projects related to energy efficiency and reduction of energy loss whether at individual, community or industrial levels

  3. Reducing Energy Gap: for most of us electricity is something common and taken for granted but there are still many places in the world where people lack access to electricity or clean cooking systems. This global challenge calls for immediate action and competition participants are invited to step in and propose potential solutions for less electrified communities

In case participant’s solution fits in more than one category, they should choose the one in which the solution could generate the greatest positive impact.


Participants may enter as individuals or as part of a multidisciplinary team (there is no limit to the number of members in the team). Individuals are invited to submit 1 project. They can also submit 1 team project for a total of 2 projects entered in the competition.


Participants are encouraged to seek academic and professional mentorship/advisement/sponsorship. Any supporting party will be mentioned alongside the project/author if included into publicity materials.


BE OPEN will reward the best work with the following monetary prizes as well as with honorary mentions.

  • First prize — €5,000
  • Second prize — €3,000
  • Third prize — €2,000
  • BE OPEN Founder’s Choice prize — €3,000
  • Public Vote prize — €2,000

The jury will select top 50 honourable mentions, then decide amongst the strongest submissions and name the winners of the First, Second and Third Prizes out of all submissions within the 3 submission categories.

The Founder’s Choice prize is allocated by the Founder of BE OPEN Elena Baturina who will select the awardee out of 50 honourable mentions. The Public Vote prize winner will be decided upon by the majority of votes in an online open vote from 50 honorary mentions.

The Competition partners might decide to reward any submitted project with non-cash prizes.


  • Open for submissions — October 1st, 2022
  • Deadline for submissions — March 30th, 2023
  • Announcement of winners — April 2023
  • Celebration of winners at Awards Ceremony — TBC


The winners of the competition will be notified by email by April 2023 of their prize category award and/or honorary mentions. The winner(s) will need to confirm the acceptance of the award. Failing such confirmation within a period of 7 days from BE OPEN making contact, the entrant(s) selected will be considered to have simply relinquished the prize and it may be awarded to another entrant with no reward for those deemed to have relinquished it. The public announcement of the winners will be made through digital channels by June 2023 and will be accompanied by an online exhibition of the winning submissions and honorary mentions.



BE OPEN will undertake to hold an award ceremony in 2023. At least one representative (in case of team submissions) of each prize category shall participate in the award ceremony.


BE OPEN will issue the monetary prize award to the winner(s) by name(s) shortly after the winners are notified in April 2023. The award is non-transferable. In the case of a team winning, the monetary award is transmitted to the lead submission entrant. He/she will be responsible for any further transactions to disseminate the award to other team members. The award may not be altered, exchanged or reimbursed. The value of the award is determined at the time of writing these rules and it may not be disputed in any way with regard to its valuation or amount. The award may not be the subject of any request for financial compensation not provided for, any exchange or any return for any reason whatsoever.


In case an award ceremony is held, a travel grant will be issued to the winners and the winning teams. The travel grant for an individual winner will amount to EUR 1,000. In the case of winning teams, a maximum of EUR 2,500 for the team will be awarded.

Travel grants for the awards ceremony will be processed in 2023. BE OPEN will issue the travel grant to winners in the form of a bank reimbursement. The travel grant recipients are responsible for the delivery of receipts and proofs of payment to BE OPEN if requested and within the deadline that will be indicated. A travel grant issue is not applicable in case of cancelled travels or no show to the awards ceremony.

The travel grant that is given to the winners is intended to partially cover expenses that will be incurred when participating in the conference. The travel grant can be applied to cover transportation (air, train) or/and accommodation/housing during the conference, travel insurance and if needed, a visa. Winners are encouraged to apply for additional travel support from the home university or any other source available to them. Winners are responsible for any taxes that may be associated with their prize award and travel grant, if any. Costs not related to the conference participation, such as any other travel than the route between home institution and conference venue, free-time activities, travel equipment, etc. are not covered nor organized by BE OPEN or Cumulus.

Winners waive any and all claims of liability against BE OPEN, its employees and representatives, for any personal injury or loss which may occur from the conduct of, or participation in, the program, or from the use of the travel grant. No responsibility is assumed by BE OPEN for any injury and/or damage to other persons, property as a matter of liability, negligence, or otherwise recognized reason caused by the participant or the institutions or any third party participating in the program.