The Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge

Making opportunities in longevity design available to all university students

By almost any measure, longer lives and aging populations are one of the defining trends of the 21stCentury. The Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL) Design Challenge reaches out to university students around the world to create awareness of aging in a younger generation, increasing their preparedness to design for this population and offering a low-risk, practical way to gain exposure to longevity-related opportunities.

A Practical and Inclusive Approach
From inception, a key tenet of the Challenge has been inclusivity. With no cost to enter and travel expenses paid, there are no barriers to entry for students from any location and any economic situation. This is only possible through support from industry sponsors.

Each fall, SCL proposes a longevity-related challenge topic. Student teams from any accredited university in the world may enter a design. Submission is free, and any intellectual property developed remains the property of the teams. Throughout the challenge, SCL hosts a website and social media presence, providing background and inspiration to designers. Entry closes in December and a panel of expert judges selects 5-8 finalist teams. They are awarded $1K for prototyping and assigned a mentor. Funding is provided to travel to Stanford in April and present their designs in competition for a $10K first prize. All finalists also participate in a business plan development workshop hosted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Through its network of sponsors and collaborators, SCL works to connect finalists to opportunities to bring their idea to fruition.

Sha Yao, winner of the first Design Challenge, with the EatWell Dishware set for Alzheimer’s patients (in production)

Strong Record of Success
In its first five years, the Challenge has:

  • Received ≈300 entries from 28 countries
  • Hosted finalists from as far away as China and Pakistan.
  • Helped teams to productize designs
  • Seen young designers use the experience to land jobs at major companies.

For many finalist teams, the monetary prize is secondary to the opportunity to experience the Silicon Valley as an inventor and connect with a network of companies, investors, and fellow young innovators from around the world.

Large and Growing Opportunity
AARP recently estimated that in the United States alone, annual economic activity by those over 50 is at least $7.1 trillion now and will reach $13.5 trillion by 2032.  The opportunity to serve this market is vast for those with the background and skills to reach this population. Young designers can often overlook older users; the Design Challenge was created with this in mind and structured to allow students to learn and become involved in tangible way.

Globally,the twin phenomenon of increasing life expectancies and decreasing fertility are driving a dramatic shift in age distribution. The universality of this shift means that all businesses, governments, and societies must incorporate it into their strategic plans. They will need a workforce trained in the trends and how to design for an older population.

Challenge 2019: “Contributing at Every Age: Designing for Intergenerational Impact”
We propose that the best approaches are ones that bring people of diverse ages together and that ageism barriers are best broken down by positive experiences. To overcome stereotypes and biases, we need new ideas and tools to help generations engage with one other in productive ways. Designers will work to create products, services, and programs that encourage people of all ages to come together for purposes as varied as:

  • Family
  • Art
  • Work
  • Play
  • Service
  • Travel
  • Education
  • Societal/Political engagement

To emphasize the need to include people of all ages as contributors, the Challenge will for the first time also require that teams include contributors from multiple generations.

Sponsorship Opportunities


  • Includes all benefits of Gold Sponsorship plus Platinum Sponsor recognition on Challenge materials
  • Acts as a strategic partner in creating the structure of the challenge and topic selection
  • Option for SCL presentation at Platinum Sponsor meeting or event


  • Includes all benefits of Silver Sponsorship plus Gold Sponsor recognition on Challenge materials
  • May provide a judge at the Challenge Finals.
  • Is offered access to all designs submitted in December 2018


  • Receives branding and Silver Sponsor recognition on Challenge materials
  • May provide content to educate teams through the challenge website
  • Is offered the opportunity to mentor teams during the incubator period