Arch + Eng, Art, Design, Education, Sci + Tech, Social Impact

Call for Proposals: The 2017 Fuller Challenge

New York City – January 13, 2017 – The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) formally announces the Call for Proposals to the 2017 Fuller Challenge. BFI invites innovators who are addressing the many crises facing humanity and the fundamental systems that support life on Earth to enter to win the 2017 Fuller Challenge Prize. For the past decade, The Buckminster Fuller Challenge has been widely regarded as socially-responsible design’s highest award, contributing to advancing whole-systems approaches to solving humanity’s most pressing problems while highlighting and nurturing countless such initiatives.

This year BFI reaches a major milestone as we mark the 10th anniversary of this unique prize. We encourage as many people as possible to respond to this call to enter the Challenge, making this year a particularly memorable one. Entering the Challenge with a high-quality application that meets the criteria ensures that your entry will be vetted by a world-class review team, that your work will be promoted to a wider audience, and that you will have the opportunity to win the $100,000 grand prize.

People from all over the world working in many fields—including science, design, architecture, engineering, education, contemporary art, urban planning, healthcare, socially responsible business, communications, economics, finance, information technology, agriculture, and food systems—are all welcome to enter the Challenge.

The $100,000 grand prize will support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy, but the Fuller Challenge offers more than a single financial award. The program aims to leverage further resources for finalists, semifinalists, and select entrants through its network and Catalyst Program.


Buckminster Fuller, who led a life of prolific research, invention, writing, and teaching, was driven by a core idea: he wanted to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.

He coupled this intention with a pioneering approach to solving complex problems that he called comprehensive anticipatory design science, which emphasizes individual initiative, integrity, whole-systems thinking, scientific rigor, and reliance on nature’s underlying principles. After decades of tracking world resources, innovations in science and technology, and human needs, Fuller clearly saw the scope and intricacy of the challenges facing humanity and he issued an urgent call for a “design science revolution” to develop options to successfully surmount these crises and make the world work for all.

Answering this call is what the Fuller Challenge is all about.


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Winning the Fuller Challenge requires more than a stand-alone idea or innovation. BFI looks for visionary whole-systems solutions that demonstrate both a clear grasp of the “big picture” and a focus on a well-defined need of critical importance. If, for example, your solution emphasizes a new design, material, process, service, tool, or technology, it is essential that it be part of an integrated strategy that simultaneously addresses key social, environmental, and economic factors.

We seek strategies that put forth what Fuller called a preferred state model – one designed to optimize conditions from inception in order to create the most desirable, sustainable, regenerative future outcome. We also seek solutions that demonstrate what Fuller referred to as the trimtab principle – that a relatively small initiative inserted into a system at the right time and place can maximize the potential for advantageous change.

Initiatives representing a range of development stages may enter – from early stage proposals with completed proof-of-concept to fully operating models ready to expand. Entries can tackle urgent needs at a range of geographic scales – from strategies designed to launch global initiatives tailored to local or regional conditions that can be adapted and replicated elsewhere. Nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid initiatives all are eligible.

Winning strategies must integrate the Fuller Challenge criteria.


To receive updates on the 2017 Fuller Challenge, please contact [email protected]