V&A Innovate

Our world is changing fast and we need to inspire the designers and innovators of tomorrow. V&A Innovate is an annual National Schools Challenge, asking students in years 7, 8 and 9 to work in teams of 4 – 6 to design a solution to a real-world problem.

V&A Innovate gives students the opportunity to experience the power of design and technology in solving some of the world's biggest problems.

Inspired by objects from our new Design 1900 – Now galleries, our three themes this year are: Renew, Connect and Move:
Renew: How might we give objects, materials and spaces a second life?
How might we better connect with each other?
How might we keep active and make the most of the outdoors?

Students submit their ideas on two A3 design sheets, and finalist teams are invited to pitch their ideas to our expert judges at our annual Pitching and Awards Day at the Museum.

Sign up to be the first to hear about Innovate news and resources.

Check out some of the entries and winners from previous years:

Previous Innovate submissions

Watch this short film of our 2019 – 2020 finalist teams describing their experience of taking part in the Pitching & Awards Day.

V&A Innovate Blog
Find out more about last year's finalists on our blog.

National schools challenge

National schools challenge

Whether you're a teacher of D&T, Art & Design, Sciences, Geography, Citizenship, or something else entirely, you could run V&A Innovate in your class to show the power of design in a fast-changing world. It can be run over a term within D&T, over a day with a STEAM project, or with an extra-curricular club. We recommend planning for a minimum of six hours to deliver the project.

V&A Innovate supports:

  • Delivery of D&T curriculum and scaffolds towards the NEA component of the D&T GCSE. The broad themes will encourage students to explore the real-world role of design in tackling the impact of global trends and models the NEA of GCSE Specs with its emphasis on design thinking, problem solving and iteration
  • Inspiration for STEAM and cross-curricular teaching
  • Artsmark and Arts Award
  • Celebrating and advocating for the role of design in your school

Benefits of students taking part include:

  • Developing interdisciplinary problem-solving skills, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication
  • Learning about the work of future looking designers and innovators
  • Engaging with some of the most innovative objects in the V&A collections
  • Exploring different design processes and applying them to real life
  • Earning the chance to win awards and prizes for their school

Deadline for entries: 7th January 2022
Finalists attend Pitching & Awards Day: March 2022


  • All students who enter receive a participation certificate
  • Shortlisted entries are judged by a panel of industry experts and receive judges' feedback
  • Finalists are invited to attend the annual V&A Innovate Pitching and Awards Day at the Museum
  • Prizes, including plaques, trophies and workshops with designers, are awarded to winning teams of students and teachers
Challenge Resources

Challenge Resources

Take part in the challenge
Head over to our resources pages to get started. Resources include using V&A collections to explore the themes, downloadable design toolkits, and films with designers and curators.

Teacher CPD

Teacher CPD

Get inspired at our free teacher events, including talks with designers, artists and educational specialists:

Register to take part

Register to take part

Register to take part in the V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge and to be kept up to date with news by email.

Get in touch

Get in touch

V&A Innovate is created by us in collaboration with designers and secondary school teachers across the country. If at any point you have questions, suggestions or ideas, drop us a line at innovate@vam.ac.uk.

This initiative has been generously supported by the Clore Duffield Foundation and Young Patrons' Circle Future Fund.

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