Efficiency for Access Design Challenge Prototypes

Prototype Funding

Being able to bring a design to life, validate ideas, and test assumption through a prototyping process is an excellent learning opportunity. Through prototype grant funding provided by the IKEA Foundation, the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge is able to offer this opportunity to students participating on the Challenge.

What is a prototype?

Prototypes are a tangible glimpse into an innovation’s future. They play a central role in the iterative design process.

Like a rough draft for an idea, prototypes are a tool used to test and validate concepts quickly and affordably.

Prototypes are not limited to full functioning products. They can be as simple as sketches or storyboards that vividly illustrate how an idea, or a small component of a design, might work in practice.

Every year, prototyping proves to be a powerful learning opportunity for the students. It can allow them to breathe life into their innovations, understand their designs better, and showcase their concepts to potential stakeholders.

Previous Participants’ Prototypes


In 2023, our talented prototype developers dedicated the months after the Grand Final to realise and refine their designs through our prototype grant funding opportunity. These students decided to go above and beyond the Challenge to pursue their ideas.

Watch a video showcase of their projects here.


In October 2022 some participants on the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge 2021-2022 showcased their designs at an exhibition as part of the 10th annual Engineering Design Show. The Engineering Design Show in Coventry is the UK’s biggest event dedicated entirely to engineering, electronics and embedded design. The show sees 4,500 design engineers walk through the doors every year to see the 200+ exhibitors at the forefront of the industry.

Of the 22 teams that decided to build prototypes in 2021-2022, eight chose to exhibit at the Engineering Design Show. All of our exhibitors were based outside of the UK and were unable to make the long journey to attend in person. Instead, students prepared posters, that covered the booth’s walls, sharing their designs. Those posters can be seen below.

To read more about the students’ show at the Engineering Design Show, and see some of photos from the show floor check out our blog post on medium!


In the 2020-2021 year of the Challenge, students exhibited their prototypes online through Dutch Design Week. Take a look at Efficiency for Access’ virtual space here to see some of last year’s prototypes: electric cooker, fresh fish cooler storage, grain dryer, hydroponic system, milk pasteurizer, vaccine refrigerator, water purification.

Not all students have exhibited their prototypes in our showcase opportunities. We are still very proud of all the prototypes students have been able to build through the Challenge. Prototypes have have included simple sketches, cardboard models, physical or digital prototypes.

Watch below a short video for a quick overview of the prototyping opportunity.