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Why should I enter the Next Generation Award?

Recognition, prestige, opportunity – essentially Next Generation gives someone the chance to win an industry-recognised award, a cash prize of £8000 and a tailored work experience programme at some of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers. Whilst we can’t guarantee a job in the automotive industry, a number of past entrants have subsequently secured fantastic jobs in the industry (and not just the overall winner). Don’t take our word for it – see our 2016 winner Josh talk about his experience here - Josh's story

Who can enter the Next Generation Award?

Our intention is to encourage more young people to pursue a career in the automotive industry so anyone aged between 17 and 25 can enter. You must either reside in the UK or currently study at a UK school or University. All entrants must be eligible to work in the UK (you will be requested to provide proof of this if selected as one of the 6 finalists) and be available for five months consecutive work experience (one month at each partner organisation) after the winner’s announcement. Work experience will be arranged for the winner with each of the partner organisations. Work experience typically begins in early spring following the announcement of the winner at the end of November. 

What do I have to submit to enter the Next Generation Award?

You must complete the online entry form and enter your personal details. To upload an entry you must provide a 1000-word description of your idea or innovation, the customer/client needs that it meets, its feasibility both technically and commercially, and the viability of its implementation. You can upload supporting images portraying the development of your idea – early sketches, renderings, initial prototype images, etc. Each image should be no more than 3MB.

How do I protect my idea?

The Award celebrates and raises awareness for young talent and we can’t do this without talking about your ideas. Elements of your entry may be published on the Next Generation Award website and in Autocar. Additionally, ideas will be showcased at the SMMT annual dinner and used for publicity purposes. It is therefore your responsibility to seek advice and protection for your idea before submitting your entry. Our six finalists will be given the opportunity to speak with Andy Tranter, Patent Attorney and Partner at Barker Brettell should they require additional advice before progressing to the final stages of the programme.

For more information on protecting your idea, please contact the Business and IP Centre at the British Library http://www.bl.uk/bipc/advice/infoclin/index.html 

Further information can also be found at www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview

At all times, the intellectual property in relation to the project will remain the entrant’s. The Next Generation Award and all parties involved will not take ownership of intellectual property.

What are we looking for in a good entry?

We’re looking for ideas that are innovative and demonstrate a significant and practical purpose; it must offer real benefits to meet clearly identifiable client/customer needs. The idea should represent a truly original concept that offers something entirely new, or a substantial refinement to an existing product, technology, service, or process that brings different benefits. This means those who specialise in marketing or communications, can also now enter the Award with an idea centred on ways of improving the ownership experience, sales, or the aftermarket processes.

You should be able to demonstrate clearly that there is a good business opportunity for someone to invest in developing your product/idea – showing the feasibility of your idea both technically and commercially, and the viability of its implementation. You will also be expected to demonstrate how your idea fits into the context of the industry and delivers competitive advantage. 

How are the entries judged?

Entries will be reviewed through a number of stages. A panel of first-round judges will select the top 12 entries to carry through to the next stage of the award programme. The judges will be professionals from within the automotive industry and this process will be administered by representatives working on behalf of the Next Generation Award. 

During second round judging, the shortlist of entries selected by the panel of first-round judges will be further scrutinised by an industry panel who will reduce it to a second shortlist of six. These will be selected purely on the merits of how well they respond to the brief – there will not necessarily be one entry selected from each area of focus (mobility, connectivity, sustainability, and customer experience).

The six short-listed finalists will then enter a mentoring process whereby each finalist will be assigned a representative from each sponsor who will advise, coach, and provide support and feedback to each entrant. Your mentor will question you in depth about your idea, its viability and feasibility. 

The six finalists will then be invited to the final Judging Day in November 2018. Each finalist will have 30 minutes to present his or her idea to a panel of industry executives. This will be followed by an interview in the afternoon in front of the entire panel. At the end of this process three finalists will be selected to attend the SMMT annual dinner on 27 November 2018, where the overall winner will be announced.

Hear what one of our judges has to say about why the award is so important & what we're looking for - Nick Fell interview

The final judging day

Following your presentation to the judges you will be asked questions. You should have a clear understanding of what ideas or products are present in the market that are similar or compete with your idea? As well as proving that your idea is viable and could feasibly be implemented, you should research costs and pricing. It will also be useful if you speak to as many people as you can about your idea, including tutors, colleagues, parents and friends. Use their advice and questions as a basis for further research. The internet is a good place to start to do your research, but you will need to investigate it thoroughly if you are going to impress the judges.

If you’re making any statements about the industry, or any statements of fact to back up your presentation, make sure that they are accurate. Check everything you intend to present to the judges. Ask a friend, colleague or tutor to review and test your theories and facts so any mistakes or typographical errors can be ironed out. Have a list of sources ready so you can respond if you’re challenged about anything during the Q&A and try to be clear and confident of your responses.

Should you get through to the final stages then prototypes (even crude ones) will help demonstrate your idea. You can view some of the past winners presentations here

The interview process

Having a great idea may get you into the final six – but if you want to get further than that, you will need to demonstrate that you are the right fit for the industry. Make sure you're prepared to answer any questions that may come up during the final judging day and ensure you have at least considered some answers to the questions below:

‘What would you like to do during your work placement if you were to win this Award?

Look at our sponsor companies websites to find out their structure and identify departments and areas you’re interested in. Any ‘work with us’ or ‘recruitment’ sections might be particularly useful. Think how your research into the company might be applied to a real-life scenario or trend that you’ve identified and explain how you might achieve your objective. Be careful with this approach though. If your analysis of a company’s aims is flawed you could end up in an embarrassing cul de sac. Know your limitations.

‘What do you want to do in your future career in the industry?’ 

Have a clear, concise answer and try not to ramble. Check the SMMT website for the ‘big picture’ industry overview. Understand what the organisation stands for and its purpose. 

Know the judges. Each judge’s biog is on this site. They are representatives of the big companies sponsoring the award who may well be public figures. You can be sure the judges will have gone to the trouble of finding out about you, so it’s only courtesy to pay them similar respect. A search on Google or on their company website will provide extra background information you need. And put yourself in the Judge’s seat. Think about the questions you would be asking if you were a judge – and then make sure you come prepared with the answers. Also have a few facts up your sleeve about their companies. Look at the locations they operate from. Understand the positions the judges and their companies occupy in the global marketplace. If they are a multinational, find out where the head office is and try to dig up a bit of corporate history.

What is the prize?

The Next Generation Award winner will receive:

  • £8000 prize
  • Five-month work placement (one month at each of the sponsors companies) 
  • The Next Generation Award trophy.

When is the deadline

The Next Generation Award website will open for entries until 31 August 2018 at 5pm. 


Have fun! Don’t be put off by anything you’ve read here. Even if you don’t come out as overall winner, shortlisted candidates are all winners because they’ll have gained a unique insight into the motor industry – previous finalists are currently employed all over the automotive industry – met some very senior individuals in the industry, made some top-quality contacts to kick-start their careers, and hopefully become friends with fellow contestants who have the same ambitions.

Full terms and conditions can be found at http://www.autocar.co.uk/nextgenerationaward/terms

Contact For all other enquiries please contact us on autocar.nextgen@haymarket.com