The Royal College of Art

RCA Grand Challenge

The world’s biggest single-institution postgraduate design project, the 2023 RCA Grand Challenge, saw over 400 students from across the School of Design work with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to explore how design can leverage and stimulate citizen science-led practices to increase the health and productivity of our oceans.

Student groups collaborated with RNLI volunteers across the UK to develop design solutions to increase the resilience of UK coastal communities. Winning proposals tackled issues as diverse as water quality, sea grass growth, microplastic filtration, and upcycling abandoned boats.

The annual Grand Challenge runs across the entire School of Design, bringing together MA students in a range of disciplines including Design Products, Fashion, Innovation Design Engineering, Service Design, Global Innovation Design, Intelligent Mobility and Textiles. The 2023 Challenge aligns with the goals of the UNESCO Ocean Decade (2021-2030) for which the RCA has been named a Decade Implementing Partner.

With thanks to all of the staff and students of the Royal College of Art School of Design and to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

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Founded in 1837, the Royal College of Art is the world’s largest community of postgraduate art and design students and has been ranked number one in the world for a remarkable nine consecutive years (QS World Subject Rankings 2015-2023). The RCA is research-led, and recognised in the UK-wide REF (Research Excellence Framework) as a world-leading research-intensive institution.

The RCA combines support for, and training in, the ‘traditional’ craft and professional skills of art and design, with the belief that art, design, creative thinking, science, engineering and technology must all collaborate to solve today’s global challenges.

Over 2,500 students are spread across four schools and four research centres – Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication and Design - studying at MA, MPhil, MRes and PhD level. The College’s mix of professionalism and creative freedom, together with its renowned academic community and rigorous academic framework provide the ecosystem in which students flourish and achieve their highest potential.