Youth Innovation Essay Prize 2023 at University of Cape Town

Deadline: 31 July 2023.

Youth Innovation Essay Prize 2023 at University of Cape Town

Applications are now open for the Youth Innovation Essay Prize 2023 at University of Cape Town. The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town, along with Douglas Knowledge Partners, are thrilled to announce the third annual Youth Innovation Essay Prize.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 30 are invited to write a 1,500–2,000 word essay about a great idea they have for South Africa’s future. This year, our theme is “Innovations for Planetary Health”. We want to hear your thoughts on how we can promote human health and social justice, while preserving the environment that allows us to thrive. Planetary health highlights the interdependence of human health and wellbeing, equity, and environmental sustainability; including issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

Essay Theme

“Innovations for planetary health”


This is more than a competition: it’s a development opportunity. Entrants with the most promising essays will receive coaching and mentorship from our writing and social innovation experts, who work with leading organisations in Africa and across the world to shape and communicate ideas on the issues that matter most for humanity. This support will help you to take your essay, and your writing and thinking skills, to the next level.

Shortlisted entrants will also gain exposure to the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at UCT, Douglas Knowledge Partners, and other organisations in our network, all of which are interested in engaging with talented people. This exposure could open the door to job opportunities, freelance roles, or further study.

There is up to R20,000 in prizes available.


  • You need to be between the ages of 18 and 30.
  • Your essay must be between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
  • Please read the “advice to entrants” carefully before you submit your essay.
  • Finalists from previous Youth Innovation Prize competitions cannot enter this year

Competition Procedure

  1. Stage 1: Open for entries (9 June 2023 – 31 July 2023) – Entrants submit their essays, and the most promising will be selected for the next stage.
  2. Stage 2: Mentorship and development (14 August 2023 – 12 September 2023) – Selected entrants receive coaching on how to improve their essays.
  3. Stage 3: Round two of submissions (26 September 2023) – Shortlisted participants submit their final essays.
  4. Stage 4: Winners chosen (27 September 2023 – 10 October 2023) – A diverse panel of judges reviews the entries and selects the winners.
  5. Stage 5: Celebration for the finalists (Date to be determined) – At a grand awards ceremony, the top three winners will be awarded a total of R20,000 in prizes.

How to Apply

Submit your essay outlining an innovative idea to tackle environmental changes and improve planetary health via the submission form on the Youth Innovation website. Your essay should detail a single innovation, provide concrete and relevant examples, and explain its potential impact in South Africa and globally. Please email a copy of your ID and your essay to

For more information, click here