“Longevity-Ready Environments: Rethinking Physical Spaces for Century-Long Lives”
The Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge is a global competition that encourages students to design products and services to improve well-being across the lifespan. In its ninth year, the Challenge is focused on how our physical environments affect the way that we age.
- Create well-designed, practical solutions that improve well-being across the life span
- Encourage a new generation of students to become knowledgeable about issues associated with long lives
- Provide promising designers with a path to drive change in the world
Successful aging is in part the result of the cumulative effects of years of interaction with the physical environment. Starting even before birth, environmental factors such as air quality, availability of well-designed outdoor spaces and transit options, living conditions, and toxin exposure affect our physical and mental health. These factors are also pathways by which inequality affects physical health – environmental quality is often worse for children and adults of lower socioeconomic status, leading to poorer health as they age. Making communities Longevity-Ready for everyone means recognizing the way our environment affects well-being at all ages in the context of a 100-year life.
This year we challenge student design teams around the world to examine the physical environments in their communities and identify opportunities to design for an environment that supports long lives. Students are encouraged to consider all aspects of their physical environments including public spaces, indoor spaces, and urban design. Designs might target:
- Outdoor and green spaces
- Airborne pollutants and household toxins
- Mitigation of weather extremes (e.g., heat mitigation) and climate change
- Public infrastructure, including housing and transportation
- Moving toward sustainable cities
- Energy consumption reductions
Teams and eligibility
Who is eligible to participate in the Longevity Design Challenge?
The Challenge is open to teams of 1-5 members and is primarily a competition for university students: at least one team member must be a student enrolled at an accredited university or college from anywhere in the world during the 2021-2022 school year. Students may be undergraduate or graduate (e.g., masters, PhD) students.
Can my team consist of students from multiple universities?
Yes! Teams may consist of students from multiple universities, from anywhere in the world.
Can non-university (e.g., high school) students participate?
Other (non-university) students may participate in the Design Challenge, but only as part of a team which contains at least one university (undergraduate or graduate) student.
Can a team have members who are not students?
Yes! A team may be a mix of students and non-students (of any age).
If a team is chosen for the finals, only team members who are students may participate in the final presentation.
Can I submit a design by myself?
Yes! You may be a “team” of one.
Can I/my team submit more than one design?
Yes! You may be a member on multiple teams and/or submit multiple designs. In the submission portal you will need to submit each design under a different email address. We do, however, recommend spending more time on one design in order to make sure your submission is high quality, rather than submitting many designs.
What kinds of materials do I need to submit to participate in the Longevity Design Challenge?
All materials are to be submitted through the submission platform: https://designchallengestanford.skild.com/. You can view a copy of the entry form under the “Resources” tab. There is a link to a copy of the entry form called “Entry form (for reference only).” It has all of the questions you need to answer, along with file types and sizes accepted for supplemental materials.
When is the last day to submit a design?
The submission deadline for the 2021-2022 Longevity Design Challenge is Thursday, December 2, 2021. The submission portal will close at 11:59 pm (23:59) Pacific time on December 2.
What types of designs are accepted by the Longevity Design Challenge?
Many types of designs are accepted in the Longevity Design Challenge. It could be a program you implement in your community, an app or software, a product for people to use, or anything else that will help people live long and healthy lives under the current topic, “Longevity-Ready Environments: Rethinking Physical Spaces for Century-Long Lives.”
Do I have to produce/implement my design for the competition?
You do not need to have a product made for the December submission deadline. We are just looking for a thorough explanation (text, and pictures/video if applicable) of what your product will be. Then, if your idea is chosen as a finalist, that’s a great time to start developing it more fully.
If you are able to make a prototype before the December deadline and able to conduct some user testing, it can help to share your results in your submission. It can be really early stages user testing, like with family and friends (who hopefully fit into whichever demographics you are designing for). Or if you don’t have a product to test yet, you can also do user interviews to get feedback on your idea.
What are the judging criteria, and what do they mean?
Longevity Design Challenge submissions are scored on 5 criteria:
Impact: The primary question behind the “impact” criteria is “will the design improve long life outcomes?” Because this is a longevity design challenge, we want to know if the design will help people be healthier (physically, emotionally, socially, etc.) or more purposeful in a way that will help improve their lives.
Originality: Does your design represent an original idea? Has your idea been seen before? Is there something similar to it on the market? A new design will earn a higher score in this criterion.
Feasibility: Will your design work in the real world? Can the design be produced at scale (e.g., for most/all of the population it is meant to serve)? Your design may be a very interesting or compelling idea, but it needs to be feasible to bring it to life to get high marks in this criterion.
Affordability: Will your users be able to afford your design when it is produced at scale? This is why the judges want to know who your design is for: e.g., Is it for children? Older adults? People with low incomes? They will also want to know how much your design will cost its users when it is produced at scale.
Fit to theme: Is your design relevant to this year’s design theme, “Longevity-Ready Environments: Rethinking Physical Spaces for Century-Long Lives”? You can read more about this theme on our website.
What is expected in a submission video?
On the entry form you have the option to upload a video. This is not required. If you choose to upload a video, we recommend keeping it short (e.g., no more than 2-3 minutes) and make sure it is relevant to understanding the idea of your design. In the first round the judges review many designs and do not have time to view long videos.
The entry form asks for “documentation that will help evaluate your proposal.” What type of documentation?
This field is meant for any materials you think might present your idea more clearly alongside the text answers you have given in the other fields. For example, you might describe how your idea works in the “Describe the design fully” section, but you think it would be helpful to include a visual or flow chart of it, so you could include PowerPoint or PDF slides that contain visual mock-ups of how your idea works. It is not required to include any extra materials.
What is meant by the question “What is the expected per person cost of the solution?”
Consider the “per person cost of the solution” to be what most users would have to pay to start using your design. For example, if your design is a product, how much would you charge people to buy it? Or if it’s a program people participate in, what is the membership cost? An estimate is fine here – this question is a way for the judges to discern how “affordable” your design is. You’ll want to consider how much it costs for you to produce your design, who will be using it (and if they will be willing or able to pay for it), etc. You should make these estimates based on what a “production” version of the design should cost – not the prototype.
For the following question about how you arrived at that number, you can describe all that background information you used to decide the “per person cost.” You can also describe who your “target audience” is – meaning, the people who will be buying and using your design (for example, students, older adults, or people living in a certain city or community). If you are going to try to make your design “free” to users, which is not obligatory, this is a good place to describe how you or an organization will cover the cost of producing the design.
Do I need to include citations in my design description?
This may not apply to everyone. If you would like to include citations, don’t worry too much about including a lot of citations (the judges just need enough information to understand your idea), but if you feel that there are sources that are important to include, please include some kind of citation along with the links so that we can see the title, publication year, and authors (in case the link doesn’t work for us). You can use any citation format.
Is there mentorship available during the submission process?
The Longevity Design Challenge team isn’t big enough to offer general mentoring in the first phase of the competition, but if you have a specific question about your project, you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to answer it or to try to help find a resource. This is also a great time to take advantage of your university’s resources. The 6-8 teams that are selected for the finals will each be paired with a mentor.
What are the cash prizes for this competition?
- Finalist teams (announced in January): $1000 US
- Grand prizes (determined at the final competition in April):
- 1st place: $10000 US
- 2nd place: $5000 US
- 3rd place: $2000 US
How are the cash prizes paid out?
Each finalist team is asked to designate one team member to receive prize money and that person is responsible for disseminating it to the other team members. That person will be asked to provide bank information for a wire transfer, and a tax identification number (if applicable).
Is the prize money subject to US taxes?
US-based teams comprised of US citizens receive the gross amount which will be reported on tax form 1099.
International teams are subject to 30% US federal tax withholding, and 7% State of California withholding if the prize exceeds $1500.
For international teams, the Center on Longevity will gross up the $1000 finalist award so that all teams (US and international) receive the full $1000 before the finals. This is to assure that each finalist team is not at a disadvantage to other finalist teams based on tax status.
The recipients of the grand prizes receive tax forms at the beginning of the following calendar year. US taxes are filed before April 15 for the prior year. If international teams would like to try getting some of the tax-withheld money refunded, the recipient of the award must have or apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Eligibility depends on the country of residence.
2020-2021 | “After the Pandemic: Designing the Next Version of Our World”
The 2021 Longevity Design Challenge focused on ideas inspired by the cultural shift that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic that support long, healthy, and happy lives for everyone.
- First Place – “Foris Labs” from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Nigeria
- Second Place – “PhoneBook” from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, USA
- Third Place – “Wulu” from Harvard Kennedy School, USA (team located in India)
2019-2020 | “Reducing the Inequity Gap: Designing for Affordability”
The 2020 Longevity Design Challenge focused on significantly reducing the cost of innovations that help people at all ages increase their odds of a long and healthy life.
- First Place – “Shishu, Sui aur Dhaaga” from the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru, India
- Second Place – “School in the Sky” from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, USA
- Third Place – “The First Desk” from the Beijing Institute of Technology in Beijing, China
2018-2019 | “Contributing at Every Age: Designing for Intergenerational Impact”
We invited teams to submit proposals for designs that promote and facilitate intergenerational interaction.
- First Place – “Family Room” by Anand Upender, Daniel Chan, Mina Bhatt, Nadine Levine, Stanford University
- First Place – “So You Think You Know Your Grandma” by Ismail Azam, Inaara Charolia, Rani Cochran, Ashna Mangla, Lillian Tran UC Berkeley
- Second Place – “Pillow Fight!” by Hung-Yu Chen, Chor-Kheng Lim, Ching-Chia Renn, YuanZe University, Taipei
2017-2018 | “Promoting Lifelong Habits through Design”
We invited teams to submit proposals for designs to create and support healthy habits –including financial, physical, and social behaviors—which are shown to improve quality of life.
- First Place – “Ride Rite” by Eric Bottelsen, Eric Lord, Maya Pines, and Drew Sigler from Virginia Tech
- Second Place – “Gesturecise” by Nakul Kasture, Nikhil Kumar, Akshat Mandloi, and Purvish Shah from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
- Third Place – “Grow and Gather” by Seira Yasumatsu of San Francisco State University.
2016-2017 | “Aging in Place”
The challenge invited submissions to address the factors that allow individuals and families to remain in their homes throughout the lifespan and into old age.
- First Place – “TAME” by Hooriya Anam, Awais Shafique, and Arsalan Javed from the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan
- Second Place – “Rendever” by Charles Lin and Kyle Rand at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Third Place – “UPPO” by Lane Hering, Emma Lee, Charlene Lertlumprasert, Genesis Solano, and Gerrold Walker from Virginia Tech
2015-2016 | “Using Happiness to Optimize Longevity”
The challenge invited submissions to address three tracks: Mind, Mobility, and Financial Security, reflective of the Center on Longevity’s mission to enable people to reach old age Mentally Sharp, Physically Fit, and Financially Secure.
“Delight the Mind” (Mind Challenge)
- First Place – “Memoir Monopoly” from Cho Szu-Yang and Cheng Ya-Fang of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
- Second Place – “Bath Chair” from National Yunlin University of Science (Taiwan)
- Third Place – “Echo” from National University of Singapore
“Discover the Motion” (Mobility Challenge)
- First Place – “City Cart” from Brandon Lopez and Eric Renard of San Francisco State University
- Second Place – “Yedi70” from Koc University at Istanbul
- Third Place – “POTALK” from National Chiao-Tung University (Taiwan)
Note: Insufficient entries were received to select finalists and make awards in the financial track.
2014-2015 | “Enabling Personal Mobility Across the Life Span”
The 2014-2015 Challenge invited designer to create solutions for empowering mobility among older adults at a personal level by: (1) reducing sedentary lifestyles, (2) encouraging and enabling physical movement and exercise, and (3) reducing barriers and increasing facilitators to mobility in the home and community.
- First Place – Nicholas Steigmann and Maiya Jensen from the California College of the Arts and their project “SPAN”
- Second Place – “HandleBar” from the University of California, Berkeley
- Third Place – “Luna Lights” from Northwestern University
- Stanford Longevity Technology Prize – “Flipod” from National University of Singapore
2013-2014 | “Maximizing Independence for those with Cognitive Impairment”
This 2013-2014 challenge focused on designing new solutions to keep individuals with cognitive impairment independent for as long as possible. The challenge asked designer to identify issues around quality of life, personal independence, and helping people experience the best parts of life for as long as possible.
- First Place – “EatWell” by Sha Yao from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco
- Second Place – “Taste+” from the KEIO-NUS CUTE center at the National University of Singapore
- Third Place – “Memory Maps” from the Copenhagen Institute of Design