Pitch The Future

Where the brightest minds help solve real-world challenges.

The Challenges: Pitch the Future


The 2021 Shell Eco-marathon season is here! While we hope to be back on the track as soon as possible, there are also new exciting virtual competitions all year round.

The all-new Virtual League has been designed to reward the efforts of students and teams throughout the season. Teams can gain points from a range of competitions, with the ultimate winners of the Virtual League getting crowned at the end of the season. While all challenges are completely voluntary – the more you compete in, the more chance you have of getting to the top of the leader board!

Our first challenge is already here and is brand new to the Shell Eco-marathon! Introducing...

Pitch the Future.

What is Pitch the Future?

Pitch the Future is an all new competition that challenges student teams from around the world to use their STEM skills on four real-world mini-challenges. Following a first submission, Regional winners (Asia, Americas & Europe) for each mini-challenge will be announced – who will all go on to pitch their ideas LIVE to a team of industry experts. Highlights from the pitches will be made available online for the public to view and vote for their favorite idea. We will then combine the experts’ scores with the public vote, crowning a global winner for each of the four challenges.

As well as pitching ideas to industry-leading experts, extra benefits will be available for all students taking part. We have teamed up with Adobe to offer access to Adobe Creative Cloud for six months for everyone taking part; and in partnership with our NXplorers team, we will be setting up a series of webinars to help you think through best practice for problem solving. Read on for more information on both of these initiatives. 

How to participate

The mini-challenges are open to all Shell Eco-marathon teams and have been designed for teams to work together in a virtual capacity. Simply register your interest by September 30, 2020 to secure a place in the competition.

You can take part in any challenge and there’s no restriction on the number of challenges if you want to do more than one! Once you’ve registered your interest you can get working on your submission.

Submissions should be as creative and visually engaging as possible. As well as a written response, your submission should include a short video that brings your idea to life. Your response should explain your idea, potential solutions and how you could accomplish them. You can incorporate plausible assumptions for any parameters of the mini-challenges that are not explicitly defined in the rules, if you believe it will help achieve the best solution. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!


The top 5 entries for each region will receive 25 virtual league points. Regional winners of each mini-challenge will be awarded a further $750 plus 50 Virtual League points. The global winner of each challenge will receive an additional $1,500 plus a further 100 Virtual League points.

Prizes for the Adobe Special Recognition award are in addition to these awards.

Download the Pitch the Future Official Rules below for further details on how to participate.

Pitch the Future Mini-Challenges

Decarbonising the Home, with Shell Energy

Shell has an ambition to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner, in step with society and our customers. Find out more:
Shell Energy have been providing residential customers with 100% renewable electricity as well as easy and convenient ways to control their energy consumption. However, consumers are increasingly looking to be empowered with intuitive and unobtrusive technology that allows them to stay informed and be in control of their energy consumption. In this challenge, students will be asked to develop a new and innovative concept that helps to lower their energy use without compromising people’s comfort and convenience.

Learn more

Tracking and reducing CO2 emissions from Vehicles with Microsoft

Microsoft have committed to becoming carbon negative by 2030, and to supporting innovation with partners and society. One of the key opportunities identified in moving to a lower carbon energy system is to develop systems that can measure and help reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars. In this challenge, students will be asked to design, and potentially develop an inclusive system prototype (for example, but not limited to hardware solutions, software solutions or conceptual procedures) that can be fitted into a passenger vehicle to track and virtually share CO2 emissions from cars globally, also providing suggestions on how to reduce emissions from driving.

Read the full description for more details

Decarbonising Road Freight Transport, with Shell Lubricants

The pandemic has shown just how reliant communities are on road freight and the complex ecosystem of vehicle manufacturers, delivery companies, fleet operators and more. But the industry is also the highest emitting sector, responsible for about 8% of global CO2 emissions.

In this challenge, students will be asked to develop an innovative concept that helps decarbonise road freight transport without compromising customer expectations of timely distribution and delivery.

Read the full description for more details

Electric Vehicles and Long-Distance Travels, with Shell Recharge

The widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will play a critical role in reducing global emissions. To address customer anxieties around EV range, Shell is investing in a range of options to increase both the number of charging points and speed of charging. As well as charging points, battery optimisation will be key to helping address anxieties about electric vehicle range.

In this challenge, students will be asked to plan an all-electric drive relevant to their region, identifying the issues associated with the trip and showing how they would optimise current technology to overcome them.

Read the full description for more details

Adobe Recognition

Adobe will provide a free six months subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud for all participants of Pitch the Future to assist in submissions for the mini-challenges. All submissions will be automatically entered into a special Adobe Recognition Award. Adobe will recognise and reward the most creative and persuasive submissions that use Adobe Creative cloud tools.

Read the Pitch the Future Official Rules for more details

Adobe Partnership

To support the challenges, we’ve teamed up with Adobe to enhance the tools available for students - enabling their technical innovations to come to life in the most creative way. Adobe will provide a free six months subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud for all participants of Pitch the Future to assist in submissions for the mini-challenges. All submissions will be automatically entered into a special Adobe Recognition Award and providing they meet the criteria as set out in the rules, participating teams will have a chance to win great prizes.

Adobe Recognition Award

Adobe will recognize the teams that use Adobe Creative Cloud for their mini-challenge submissions – rewarding the most creative and persuasive communication.

All members of the winning team will receive a 1-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud worth over $500 and the top 3 teams will receive a financial award.

Please see the Pitch the Future Rules for more details.

Pitch the Future and Shell NXplorers

To offer further support for Pitch the Future challenges, teams will have access to Shell NXplorers, an educational programme that introduces young people to the complex and creative thinking needed to bring about positive change.

This partnership will give teams additional resources to help formulate their problems and solutions in-depth, with guidance on how best to prepare for pitching their ideas to the judges. Most of all, this partnership will help teams see themselves as positive agents of change, equipped with a new set of tools and skills to be able to solve any complex situation.

In cooperation with NXplorers, we have prepared a series of four webcasts focusing on problem solving approaches:

  • NXthinking stage: Students will be introduced to a new way of thinking and learn how to apply it to a complex problem-solving process.
  • Explore Stage: Students will learn how to apply Systems Thinking tools to identify critical factors, how to think about perspectives and key stakeholders, and how to identify strategic leverage points.
  • Create Stage: Students will focus on ideation, using Scenario Planning tools to identify the preferred, “perfect” future and generating ideas to achieve that future.
  • Change Stage: Where students will test ideas for feasibility, identify all possible consequences (intended and unintended), and work on planning, pitching and persuading. 

All sessions will be recorded and can be shared with a broader audience, plus there will additional reading available for students who want to understand those concepts in greater detail.

Students who participate in the four Shell NXplorers sessions will receive a certificate of attendance.

2021 Virtual Programme

2021 Virtual Programme

The 2021 Virtual Programme includes the global Virtual League, where teams can earn points across a range of different challenges. Here’s how teams can compete in the league.

Learn more about the 2021 Virtual Programme
Team registration

Team registration

Registration for Pitch the Future is now open from September 7 - 30, 2020. Pitch the Future challenges students to apply their technical skills to real world problems to come up with solutions for a series of energy-related mini-challenges. The best teams will have a chance to pitch their ideas in a virtual environment to a panel of industry experts.

Register for Pitch the Future