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Horizon scanning competition for UK students with cash prizes of up to £1,500 now open

Published on June 15th 2022

Download template  Submit your entry by email

The competition

Academics have long played a role in early warning signal detection leading to pro-active policy action, from the global financial crisis of 2008 to the decline in bee diversity on a global scale.

‘Horizon scanning’ is not just about predicting the future. It’s about helping to better prepare policy- and decision-makers so that they can respond to the complex political, environmental, and economic challenges of today.

The Horizon Scanning competition, launched by Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy (based at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), University of Cambridge), for the first time this year, is all about harnessing fresh thinking from current UK students and early-career researchers.

We’re asking for ideas on what future scenarios (based on current trends in science and technology) policy makers should have on their radar over the next ten to fifty years.

Winners will receive a cash prize (details below) and will have the opportunity to present their ideas at a multi-stakeholder online event hosted by the IfM later this year.


  • First prize: £1500
  • Second prize: £750
  • Highly commended: £150 (multiple prizes available)


The Horizon Scanning competition is open to all students enrolled at a UK-based university during the 2022 calendar year, including undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students.

The competition is also open to early-career researchers (post-doctoral researchers) less than five years post-PhD (allowing for career breaks).

Submissions may be made either by individuals, or by small groups of up to five people. If submitting in small groups, all those within the group must meet the eligibility criteria above.


Entrants are asked to complete a two-page template summarising a potential future scenario and its potential impacts.

These will identify either:
  • The impact of political, economic, societal, legal, or environmental trends on developments in science and technology e.g. A conflict in Eastern Europe which causes restrictions in energy supply leads to new ‘space race’ in clean energy development
  • The impact of developments in science and technology on political, economic, societal, legal, or environmental developments.  e.g., Targeted news algorithms lead to erosion of trust in democracy and unrest in the United States

Entries must be submitted in the template and sent to ifm-policy-links@eng.cam.ac.uk by 15 August 2022. Entries that are not submitted in the template format will not evaluated.

A selection of high-quality entries will published on the CIIP website to showcase the insights generated by students and early-career researchers.

Submissions will be assessed on:
  • Evidence synthesis. The use of a breadth of sources, and the synthesis of these to support your submission.
  • Writing style. Submissions should be written in jargon-free language with a clear compelling narrative accessible to policymakers and non-academic audiences.

**In submitting your entry, you are giving permission for your work to be selected for publication in a report by CIIP highlighting high-quality entries to the competition.

Download template  Submit your entry by email

Competition deadlines

  • 17 June 2022: Competition opens
  • Midnight 15 August 2022: Deadline for submissions
  • September 2022:  Competition winners announced
  • TBC 2022: Winners receive their award and present their work at an online event
  • Before end 2022: All finalist submissions are available on the CIIP website


Entries will be judged by a panel of senior experts in science and technology as well as senior government officials.

The judging panel is made up of:
  • Simone Boekelaar, Head of Horizon Scanning at Innovate UK
  • Emily Connolly, Head of the Emerging Technologies Team, Government Office for Science
  • Professor Sir Mike Gregory, Chair of the Babbage International Policy Forum and President of the Cambridge Society for the Application of Research (CSAR)
  • Dr Eoin O’Sullivan, Director of the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge

About Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy

This competition is funded by Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy (CIIP) group at the University of Cambridge.

CIIP brings together the Centre for Science, Technology & Innovation Policy at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), the Policy Links Unit from IfM Engage, and the Babbage Policy Forum.

CIIP works to identify value creation opportunities from emerging technologies; understand the role of manufacturing-related capabilities in capturing value; and help design policies to enhance innovation, competitiveness and societal wellbeing.

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