UL Sustainability Challenge

What is it?

For fifty years, UL has been at the forefront of finding solutions to today’s challenges.  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, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Kemmy Business School and Buildings and Estates department which is calling on students to submit ideas to make our environment more sustainable – to either the campus, the city or wider Mid-West region or further afield.

 Who can enter?

 UL undergraduate or 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 execution of project plan, the study element will also be evaluated.

Objective of the competition

 The competition is a partnership between the Bernal Institute, Kemmy Business School and Buidlings 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.

 Selection of Finalists

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.

Competition Timelines

Deadline for applications:  5pm Thursday, August 25th 2022. The deadline to enter this competition has passed.

August – October 2022: Shortlisted entrants will be invited to pitch their Project Proposal to the Independent Expert Jury.

September 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.

  1.  Can I enter with my own team (having past students of UL and a few European Counterparts from other members state of EU)?

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

  1. Can I apply for more than one project?

No, applicants can only participate in one proposal.

  1. What rewards or opportunities are further waiting if selected as the winner?

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

  1. What is the final prize?

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!

  1. Who are the people administering this challenge?

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
  1. “Is the PDF proposal a text based document, or can we use pictures and other assets to illustrate our ideas?

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.

  1. Are there any limitations on the proposal?

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.