Open University launches 'Challenge Us!' competition to tackle most pressing societal challenges in Milton Keynes

    The Open University (OU) is inviting local businesses and charities in Milton Keynes to join forces in addressing society's most pressing challenges.

    The Challenge Us! competition aims to bridge the gap between OU researchers and local businesses and charities, encouraging collaboration that will tackle real-world problems.

    The competition has been launched in partnership with Milton Keynes City Council and runs until Wednesday 15 May 2024.

    MK businesses and UK-based charities are encouraged to propose a challenge that the OU can address through research. The research ideas will need to fit into one of the three themes: Sustainability, Living Well and Tackling Inequalities.

    The competition marks the external launch of the OU’s Open Societal Challenges Programme, which already has over 250 challenges on its online platform

    Spearheaded by Professor Kevin Shakesheff, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research & Innovation at the OU, the programme has a unique approach to research and functions through organising a community of researchers to address the crucial societal challenges facing people across the world.

    Commenting on this approach, Professor Shakesheff said:

    “Our university has a fantastic open mission, and we make a huge impact on people’s lives by opening opportunities to everyone across society.


    “Our excellent research impacts the lives of people in all four nations of the UK and globally. Our biggest impacts come from teamwork, especially projects that are stimulated by people and organisations outside of higher education who want to work with us for the long-term. This competition aims to bring more and more people into our Open Societal Challenges programme and to create new challenges that our research teams can tackle.


    “We decided to run these competitions because we want more voices to have a say in our research and to find the most exciting research ideas tackling real-world problems.”


    Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Innovation, Councillor Shanika Mahendran said:

    “We’re proud to be working alongside the OU as part of this competition which will help us to tackle everyday issues. Milton Keynes is a world leading smart city and this competition will help us find solutions in improving health and wellbeing, innovative transport and continuing our sustainability mission.”


    Shortlisted entrants will develop their entries further with OU research teams and winners will receive funding and support with their research from OU teams.

    More information on how to enter a challenge can be found on the dedicated webpage for the competition: Challenge US! Competition (

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