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Challenge for Radical Ideas in Higher Education

Jacobs Foundation launches challenge:
Research project ideas can be submitted until 31 January 2019
The challenge will be scientifically evaluated by Jacobs University.

In the course of the challenge, the Jacobs Foundation will support selected projects with a total amount of up to 750,000 Swiss francs (650,000 euros).


General Information

  • The ‘Challenge for Radical Ideas in Higher Education’ launched by Jacobs Foundation and evaluated scientifically by Jacobs University aims to provide innovative impulses in the important fields of higher education and academic learning.
  • Interested researchers as well as experts from EdTech startups are eligible to submit ideas for projects to be implemented and tested on the campus of Jacobs University Bremen in close collaboration with its faculty, staff and students.
  • The setting for the implementation of funded projects: Jacobs University Bremen is a residential university, which combines two educational models, the European and the Anglo-Saxon. It has a broad study program portfolio and a highly international student body of around 1,400 undergraduates and graduates.
  • Possible topics include, but are not limited to, learning and teaching in highly diverse groups or in large groups, social-emotional learning, motivation, emotion, affective well-being, individual differences, interdisciplinary and domain-specific learning (e.g., mathematics), digital learning, blended learning, online measurement, peer-learning, peer-support networks, non-academic issues and their impact on learning (e.g., safety on campus).

Guiding Principles

  • We welcome short proposals for three types of projects, all to be implemented and tested at Jacobs University:
    1.    Evaluations of interventions/programs/technologies
    2.    Add-ons to existing interventions/programs/technologies, wherein applicants seek to enhance an existing program
    3.    Smaller “proof-of-concept” projects
  • Projects must be grounded in theory about how the intervention/program/technology works, how it affects student’s learning and wellbeing, and how their learning and wellbeing can be improved. If available, project proposals should include data on project effectiveness and describe prior implementations.
  • Proposed projects must be conducted on campus of Jacobs University Bremen. A matchmaking between applicants and collaboration partners in Bremen will take place after preselection of draft proposals.
  • A rigorous evaluation will be part of the project. It should occur within the time of the project and focus on likelihood of creating sustainable change, appropriateness for the target group, and transferability to other sites.
  • Details of implementation and measurement may be developed in step 3 of the application process (see below).
  • A total amount of 750,000 Swiss francs (650,000 euros) is available for project funding in this challenge, the number of projects and the project scope is not determined. Projects should run for a maximum of two years.

Eligibility, Submission and Timeline

  • Interested researchers and experts of EdTech startups are eligible to submit research project ideas (max. 3 pages, no formatting requirements) until 31 January 2019 to  jf [at]
  • After internal review, a selected number of applicants will be invited to Bremen to become familiar with institutional characteristics, and to meet with Jacobs University’s faculty. This campus visit will take place on 28 February 2019.
  • Applicants are then expected to further develop and finalize their full proposals in collaboration with Jacobs University’s faculty and submit the full proposal until 30 April 2019.
  • An international jury will evaluate full proposals and nominate projects for funding. The final funding decision will be made by the Foundation in June 2019.
  • Projects should start in fall 2019; in 2021 project results will be presented to the campus community and to the interested public.

Further information

Download PDF Call for Proposals

Please send your proposal to: jf [at]

Click here for an interview with Simon Sommer, Head of Research at Jacobs Foundation. Source: Till Rückwart, Hochschulforum Digitalisierung

Further information: