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Entry Criteria

The BEST Awards is open to any student enrolled in an FE College in 2016/17. The course may be either part-time or full-time and your project entry can be based on a project module within a course or on any element of project-based learning or investigation. Your work should have a significant element of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) or related areas as its basis but there are no restrictions on the business area to which the project relates.  Entries are welcomed from a broad range of STEM- based areas including, for example, Engineering, Creative Media, Applied Sciences, Built Environment, Computing & IT, Animal Care, Sports Science, Music Technology, Healthcare, Accounting and Digital Design.  If you are unsure if your project qualifies, have a talk with your course tutor.

Entries may be individual or team-based.  

Each College may submit 10 entries (mix of team or individual entries) across five categories.  There must be at least one College entry per category: 

BEST Award Categories


1.     Creative Industries Award
2.     Life Sciences Award
3.     Engineering Award
4.     Built Environment Award
5.     Software Award

The deadline for Colleges to send their list of entries to Colleges NI is
 Friday 14 April 2017.

How to apply

Each College must submit their list of entrants to Karen Lennon at Colleges NI by the above closing date. This year we are not accepting any entrants from students (they must all come through the College).

We would strongly advise that each College runs a College / inter Campus event in advance to help you select your best students (also gives the students an opportunity to see what being judged at an event like this is like). 


A template for your list of entrants has been sent to the Colleges to complete


Exhibition Space

Each entrant will have an exhibition space at the final days which is being held on Tuesday 23 May 2017.   This will consist of:
  • 1 trestle table (approx 4 foot length by 2 foot depth)
  • 1  electrical socket
  • One back wall with 2 metre width of exhibition space and one side wall with 1 metre depth of exhibition space
See the Photo below for the dimensions of the stands. 

You can only use Blu-Tak to stick posters to the display panels.  To see photos from student exhibitions at last year’s event click 2016 Photos

Any student(s) requiring more than one electrical socket - must bring their own electrical extension socket which has been PAT tested

Any student(s) who have a large display which will not fit within the above dimensions must have informed their tutor and this must be stated on the information supplied to Colleges NI.  




Set Up Times

The venue is normally open to students for set-up on:
  • the evening before (7pm-9pm)
  • the morning of the event (8am to 9.30aM).
  • All students must have their exhibitions in place by 10am on the day of the Awards Ceremony


At the event

The judging will take place from 10am to circa 2.45pm on the day of the event.  Each project will be judged by up to 3 different judges (who will all be representatives from business / industry).

The Awards Ceremony will then follow and event will close by 4pm.

Refreshments supplied to all student entrants will include tea/ coffee on arrival and a hot buffet lunch. 


List of prize categories

As in previous years - there will be prizes in each of the 5 categories above – the other remaining  prizes announced on the day (across all categories) – and based on the judges decisions will be for the following:

1.     Innovation Award
2.     Visual Design Award
3.     Communication Award
4.     Entrepreneurial Award
5.     Most Supporting Lecturer

Judging at the event

You will have the opportunity to display your project at the grand final in May 2016 and discuss your work with the judges. The judges will be drawn from a variety of sectors including business, education and the public sector, and will be assigned to projects related to their individual backgrounds.

The judges will visit you at your stand to chat with you about your project. This will give you the opportunity to discuss any aspect of your project in more detail, for example, the challenges in developing the final solution or the possibility of taking the project to market. In general, the judges will seek to assess the following aspects of your work:

  • The goal of your project (could be an existing problem or a new market opportunity).
  • The key issues you have considered that directly influence your project.
  • Your research (background reading, interviews, review of what already exists etc).
  • The solutions you have considered and how you decided to take your project forward.
  • How you planned and managed your work.
  • The outcome of your project (could be a working prototype, a proposal for a new business process or perhaps a new software analysis for example).
  • How well you communicate your project.


Date / venue of BEST Awards Ceremony

The event will take place on Tuesday 23 May 2017 in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, County Down, BT33 0AH. 

Photos from the 2016 event


A link to last year’s event may be found at: BEST Awards 2016.