Participants discuss ideas with a mentor at Red Bull Basement University in Toronto, Canada on December 14, 2019.
© Maggie Stephenson/Red Bull Content Pool

Looking for a way to make an impact? These categories will get you thinking

Everyone has potential to make the world better, but sometimes it's hard to know where to start. Focussing on an issue you're passionate about can spark solutions that will drive positive change.
Written by Trish Medalen
4 min readPublished on
Making a positive impact has become a priority for people around the world, but while it's encouraging that we're adjusting our routines to recycle, use less water and so on, the number of us who take bold and innovative action for our future remains low.
Data shows that young people in particular are determined to level up and they already have the power of being native technology users. Happily, a Statista survey shows that in the USA alone, the number of adults who now believe new technologies can solve global warming is about 50 percent – a forward-thinking trend.
Often, the first step in moving from good intentions to actually driving change involves generating ideas. One tried-and-true method for effective brainstorming is to focus on an issue that moves you.
Take the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, for example. Emphasising that we are living in a time of "immense challenges" but also "immense opportunity" thanks to factors such as technological advances, the UN created these goals around issues that need urgent action. This year, many of the participants in Red Bull Basement, a programme that empowers student innovators to kickstart their ideas using technology, are taking inspiration from eight categories based on the UN goals. These topics might just inspire you, too.

Body and mind

We can't tackle the world's biggest challenges if we don't take care of ourselves and each other. What app or innovation can you imagine to advocate and foster mental and physical well-being?


Finding and seizing career opportunities is life-changing, and with the UN reporting that even though economic recovery is under way, many countries will not attain pre-2020 levels for another year or more, this topic is especially timely. Potential solutions in this category are limitless, ranging from job application and interview tools to ways to facilitate work opportunities for all.

Clean water

The World Health Organisation reports that by 2025, half the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas. Ideas from British and Canadian teams in Red Bull Basement 2020 – a water-saving clothes washing machine from Team Lava Aqua X and a water-themed interactive adventure game from Team TO Play – show just how diverse the ideas can be in this category.
Paramveer Bhachu (L) and Joanna Power (R) from LAVA AQUA X are seen at the Red Bull Basement in London, United Kingdom on December 13, 2020.

UK team Lava Aqua X in Red Bull Basement 2020, where they took top honours

© Mark Roe/Red Bull Content Pool

Climate action

One survey of university students found that 90 percent are concerned about the effects of climate change. Young people of all ages are leading the way by taking action and demanding to be heard on this issue. The range of needed solutions is as broad as the problem, from how to battle climate change itself to how to deal with its impacts.


The Sustainable Development Goal that targets education becomes even more important with the UN's new finding that, due to the global situation, two decades of education gains have been wiped out worldwide in less than two years.
Past Red Bull Basement teams UniThink from Pakistan and Culture Capture from Kenya thought outside the box to come up with education facilitators like an app for researchers and a digital museum that documents vanishing cultures.
Abdul and Rawlins cheer their Community Award win during the Global workshop finals of Red Bull Basement in Nairobi, Kenya on December 13, 2020.

Kenya's Culture Capture team win the Red Bull Basement 2020 Community Award

© Eric Kariuki/Red Bull Content Pool


Local and global communities are stronger when we build them together and amazing innovations often come from the grassroots level. Your ideas for using technology to encourage involvement and ensure equal leadership opportunities could impact your local scene and far beyond.


Improving access to reliable and sustainable energy is key to making the world a better place. Recent Red Bull Basement changemakers have developed, for example, concepts that charge devices with a simple hand movement (Slovakia's Team Charging Revolution) and convert sound waves into electricity (Team Hummingbird from Japan).
Participants are seen during Red Bull Basement in Tokyo, Japan on December 13, 2020.

Team Hummingbird envisioned a way to convert sound waves into electricity

© Gaku Miwa/Red Bull Content Pool

Smart cities

By the end of this century, more than 80 percent of the global population are expected to be living in urban areas, opening a world of opportunities for technology solutions that can help make communities inclusive, safe and sustainable.
Now that the application window is open for Red Bull Basement 2021, students around the world are generating ideas for tech solutions to shake up the status quo. The challenges that they're choosing show us what's on their minds and the answers that they – and you – envision will change the world tomorrow.
If you're a student innovator or simply want to learn more, visit and find out how to apply.