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BCIL Hosts 2021 Innovation Challenge Finals
by Dr. Josh Berger, Director of the Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership

This year's BCIL Innovation Challenge (see video here) asked students to creatively address the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. A large number of 6th through 12th Grade students participated in this year's event and, after multiple rounds of judging, our five outstanding finalists pitched their ideas in front of an all-star panel of international judges. This year's finalist submissions ranged from innovative ways to save water, aid small businesses, sustainably generate electricity, increase charitable giving, and provide equitable access to STEM education.   
Zach Chien ’13, the BCIL Entrepreneurship Coordinator, brought an accomplished group of judges together including entrepreneurs from Colombia, France, Spain, and the United States. The group also featured a senior specialist from the United Nations and one Brentwood alum, Austin Hutcherson ’09. The judges had a chance to ask questions of each finalist team and evaluated each of the entries based on the following criteria: innovation (is the proposed solution creative and unique?), feasibility (how realistic is the proposed solution?), impact (how significantly would the proposed solution impact a Sustainable Development Goal if it worked?), and quality of presentation. Members of the Brentwood community also had the opportunity to evaluate the entries and the combined score from the audience was equivalent to one judge’s vote.

Based on these combined scores, Eric G. ’26 and Jolie F. ’26 won this year's Innovation Challenge with their extraordinary Circuit Shower pitch (see here)! In their review of this team, the judges praised these seventh graders for their engaging story-telling, well-designed prototype, and creative solution for water conservation.

The BCIL Collaborative staff will continue meeting with all finalists to help bring their ideas to fruition. Additionally, we are excited to announce that several of our finalists recently advanced to the championship round of a related international competition entitled the “World Series of Innovation.” We will keep the community posted! 
Our students did an inspiring job with this year’s Innovation Challenge, and we have listed a few of their reflections below:
"My experience in the BCIL has taught me so much. Besides learning to work with a partner, I also learned a lot about sustainability. Overall, competing in the BCIL innovation challenge has been one of the best things I ever did!" —Eric G. ’26
"What I enjoyed about it was that I had the freedom and support to create anything I wanted. There was no limit on what we could do, and all of our mentors were so helpful along the way." —JoJo F. ’26
"I thought the program was a great way to help students get involved with real world issues, and find innovative, entrepreneurial ways to create positive change!" —John B. ’22
"It was an amazing experience because I was able to discover that I am really passionate about entrepreneurship. Also, I had a great time working with my brother because he was able to bring different points of views that I could not see before which helped elevate our idea." —Andrew B. ’23
"Participating in the BCIL Innovation Challenge this year was a very memorable experience for me! Refining my idea with the BCIL Collaborative and then pitching my idea to an international panel of judges taught me a lot about entrepreneurship and gave me a unique skillset that will allow me to approach similar opportunities in the future." —Rahul Y. ’23

"While participating in the BCIL innovation challenge, I loved working collaboratively with my teammates to develop an idea that we are passionate about and believe can truly make an impact on the environment and on our community. I enjoyed working with the BCIL because I felt supported, encouraged, and comfortable asking for help at any time. I learned a lot about the process of developing an idea and the BCIL really helped my team expand our idea beyond the classroom." Riya A. ’23

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