Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Each year, the Buckminster Fuller Institute awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a solution that has significant potential to solve one of humanity’s most pressing problems. This prize program is a call to the world’s artists, scientists, designers, architects, engineers, students, and entrepreneurs committed to playing a transformative role in addressing the biggest issues we face today. 


Winning the Buckminster Fuller Challenge requires more than inserting a great stand-alone innovation into a complex ‘problem space’. We are looking for holistic strategies that demonstrate a clear grasp of ‘the big picture’, focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. If for example, your solution emphasizes a new design, material, process, service, tool, technology, or any combination, it is essential that it be part of an integrated strategy that incorporates key social, environmental, and economic factors. We are seeking visions that put forth what Fuller called a preferred state model – one that aims to design a set of initial conditions from inception in order to create over time, the most desirable, sustainable outcome. We are seeking solutions that embody what Fuller referred to as the trimtab principle – demonstrating that a relatively small initiative inserted into a system at the right time and place can achieve maximum leverage for advantageous change.

Entries can span the spectrum of scale - from macrostrategies restoring and maintaining ecosystems necessary for life on earth to thrive, to community-based ventures that have global relevance. Entries can also span the spectrum of development stage - from well formulated concept, to proof-of-concept, to proven track record. Competence and commitment of the team behind the idea is more important.

Entries must also meet the following criteria:

VISIONARY put forth an original idea that creatively addresses a critical need or synthesizes existing ideas into a new strategy.

COMPREHENSIVE apply a “whole-systems” approach to all facets of the design and implementation process; aim to simultaneously address the root cause and multiple goals, requirements, conditions and factors.

ANTICIPATORY factor in critical future trends and needs as well as the projected impacts of implementation in the short and long term.

ECOLOGICALLY RESPONSIBLE reflect nature’s underlying principles while enhancing the Earth’s life-support systems.

FEASIBLE rely on current technology and existing resources backed by a solid team capable of implementing the project.

VERIFIABLE able to withstand rigorous empirical testing and makes authentic claims.

REPLICABLE able to be adapted to similar conditions elsewhere.  


Buckminster Fuller’s prolific life of scientific, artistic and design research + invention was driven by his intention to design new systems in which humanity could live at a level of freedom, comfort and dignity without negatively impacting the Earth’s life support systems. He established for himself a set of rigorous design principles, ecological aesthetics, and insights into the fundamental ‘pattern integrities’ of the Universe. This approach guided his efforts to envision and render radically new solutions to some of the most entrenched and complex global problems. Fuller demonstrated that by dramatically increasing the performance of each and every invested resource we can surmount the complex crises facing humanity and maintain the planet’s carrying capacity. He understood that our option to realize this potential hinges directly on an unwavering commitment to individual initiative, personal integrity, and faithful reliance on nature’s underlying principles.

Fuller issued an urgent call for a design science revolution “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”.

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

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