UL Sustainability Challenge is a competition for UL students to develop proposals to tackle our climate crisis.  The competition is a partnership between the Bernal Institute, Kemmy Business School and the Buildings and Estates department.  We are calling on students to submit ideas to make our environment more sustainable. 

  • UL undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Limerick. You can enter on your own or in a team.
  • The lead applicant(s) must be a UL student, however, collaborative partners named on the application can be external to the University of Limerick, (e.g., academic, industry, past student or community member.)

Five projects will be shortlisted, each will receive support, and up to €10,000 to prepare and deliver a working pilot or demonstration of their proposal during the months from September 2022 to March 2023.

The overall winner or winning team will receive a personal award.

Credits. Serious elaboration of your project contributes to your academic education, soft skills and personal development. The UL Sustainability Challenge group has explored the option of awarding credits in line with appropriate study elements (appropriate modules, Design Project, FYP, CoOp, otherwise) with all faculties. Obviously, this needs finetuning per team and should be considered in your project proposal. During the execution of the project plan, the study element will also be evaluated.

The competition is a partnership between the Bernal Institute, Kemmy Business School, and the Buildings and Estates department which offers a platform to inspire, stimulate, facilitate and action UL student thoughts around sustainable development.

The objective is to translate ideas to help achieve a sustainable development goal, into real action.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world are:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

Ideas submitted will guide future investments in the Castletroy and city campuses or can be drawn on as ideas for further development.

Five finalists will be selected by an independent expert panel comprising representatives from industry and academia.  The five most promising project proposals will be shortlisted, each will receive support, and up to €10,000 to prepare and deliver a working pilot or demonstration of their proposal during the months from September 2022 to March 2023. The outcome will be evaluated on the basis of targets, feasibility plan, and societal impact.

The winner will be announced in April 2023 during UL Research Week.

  • Deadline for applications: 5pm Thursday, August 25th 2022.  The completed application form must be submitted as a single PDF to SRawards@ul.ie
  • September-October 2022: Shortlisted entrants will be invited to pitch their Project Proposal to the Independent Expert Jury.
  • October 2022 – March 2023:  The jury will select the five most promising Project Proposals
  • April 2023: Overall winner announced.

Questions about the competition can be emailed to SRawards@ul.ie with the word question in the subject bar.

We believe that winning concepts will benefit from diversity and multidisciplinarity in the student teams. We encourage participating teams to ensure that the technical, business, and human/social skills and backgrounds are well represented in the team.

Download the Application Form

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, provided there is (are) current UL student(s) leading the team. Supervisors may participate but the proposal and pitch must be led by UL student(s). Alignment with (PhD/International/industry/academic) project & partners is permitted.

No, applicants can only participate in one proposal.

We will disclose rewards/opportunities at or after Phase 1 (proposal) submission deadline, when selecting Phase 2 (proposal workout and delivery) teams.

The final prize will be tuned to the winning team, we trust it will be interesting. But the real reward is in translating your idea/ ambition into action!

The UL Sustainability Challenge 2021 core group are:


  • Dr Rita Buckley, Department of Economics, Kemmy Business School, UL
  • Professor Finbarr Murphy, Executive Dean, and Associate Professor in Quantitative Finance and Emerging Risk, Kemmy Business School, UL
  • Chris Fogarty, Buildings and Estates Energy Manager, UL
  • Robert Reidy, Buildings and Estates Director, UL
  • Christine Brennan, Research Strategy and Policy Manager, UL
  • Áine O’Neill, Communications Officer, Bernal Institute, UL
  • Professor Luuk van der Wielen, Director, Bernal Institute, UL

Please submit the form (with team and proposal details) and refer to & include additional objects/graphics/artefacts/GA/flowchart to illustrate your ideas. The Proposal should show credibility(availability, skillset) of team

The objective is to translate creative and ambitious sustainability ideas into real action. This implies experiment, test, pilot and demonstration. We believe that much of the testing and final implementation can be done at our other large resources: the UL Campus and within the regional environment.

Remember to include in your proposal any (test/demo) facilities, lab access or supports that you will require. We will work with you within budget (10k per team max) towards your success. The 50k budget is designed for the execution of projects in Ireland. Talk to us about any further requirements that you have.