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Mary Bellis

2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

By February 1, 2014

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buckminister fullerThe Buckminster Fuller Institute announces the Call for Proposals to the 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Recognized as "Socially-Responsible Design's Highest Award", the Challenge is an annual global design competition awarding the winner a $100,000 cash prize to support the development and implementation of a solution that has significant potential to solve one of humanity's most pressing problems. This prize program is a clarion call to the world's artists, scientists, designers, architects, engineers, students, and entrepreneurs committed to playing a unique and transformative role in addressing the biggest issues we face today.

Inspired by Bucky's call for a design science revolution, The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is the world's only large scale prize awarding holistic approaches to the interrelated crises confronting the world today.

Applications Will Be Accepted Starting February 14, 2014


Winning the Buckminster Fuller Challenge requires more than inserting a great stand-alone innovation into a complex 'problem space'. We are looking for holistic strategies that demonstrate a clear grasp of 'the big picture', focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. If for example, your solution emphasizes a new design, material, process, service, tool, technology, or any combination, it is essential that it be part of an integrated strategy that incorporates key social, environmental, and economic factors.

We are seeking visions that put forth what Fuller called a preferred state model - one that aims to design a set of initial conditions from inception in order to create over time, the most desirable, sustainable outcome.

We are seeking solutions that embody what Fuller referred to as the trimtab principle - demonstrating that a relatively small initiative inserted into a system at the right time and place can achieve maximum leverage for advantageous change.

Entries can span the spectrum of scale - from macrostrategies restoring and maintaining ecosystems necessary for life on earth to thrive, to community-based ventures that have global relevance. Entries can also span the spectrum of development stage - from well formulated concept, to proof-of-concept, to proven track record. Competence and commitment of the team behind the idea is more important.

Entries must also meet the following criteria:

  • VISIONARY put forth an original idea that creatively addresses a critical need or synthesizes existing ideas into a new strategy.
  • COMPREHENSIVE apply a "whole-systems" approach to all facets of the design and implementation process; aim to simultaneously address the root cause and multiple goals, requirements, conditions and factors.
  • ANTICIPATORY factor in critical future trends and needs as well as the projected impacts of implementation in the short and long term.
  • ECOLOGICALLY RESPONSIBLE reflect nature's underlying principles while enhancing the Earth's life-support systems.
  • FEASIBLE rely on current technology and existing resources backed by a solid team capable of implementing the project.
  • VERIFIABLE able to withstand rigorous empirical testing and makes authentic claims.
  • REPLICABLE able to be adapted to similar conditions elsewhere.

Schedule for the 2013 Cycle

  • March 1, 2013: Begin accepting online applications
  • April 12, 2013: 5pm EST, DEADLINE for submissions to the 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge
  • August: Semi-Finalists Announced
  • October: Jury Deliberations
  • October: Finalists Announced
  • November 2013: Winner Announced and Conferring Ceremony held at Cooper Union
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