IDEA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)


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Collected here are answers to our most frequently asked questions. We hope this information helps to make your IDEA entry process as smooth as possible. 

Entering the Competition   I  Payment Information   I   Sending a Product to The Henry Ford   I   Judging   I   Winner Recognition



How do I enter my project in IDEA?
All entries are made using our online awards platform. You must create an account or hold a current IDSA membership in order to submit your project. Information required to complete your entry can be found in the entry system. 

Do I need to send in the actual product as part of my entry?
Only entries that are invited and complete payment into Round 2 of the competition will have the option to send a physical product to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan for review by judges. Complete details are below.

What is "Design Credit"?
A list of all the individual names (or teams if you prefer) of the people who contributed to the design you are submitting on their behalf. Please note: If there are more than five (5) people on your team and you win an award, please list the company name and not the individuals.

How should I list the design credits if the design team is in-house? 
You should list the company as a design credit and also as the client/manufacturer.

Our design team is in-house. Is it still permissible for the manufacturer’s name and logo to appear in the entry?
Yes, names or logos of manufacturing companies/clients may appear ONLY if they are inherent to the product. If the design team has its own identity though, you may NOT include its name or logo in your entry answers or photos.

I am a student, so which entry form should I use?
Students use the exact same form as everyone else, just select “Student” and the corresponding category when entering your information. If you would like to be judged against practicing professionals, you must select “Professional” and will be charged the higher professional fee.

Can I enter a concept?
Yes. Professional conceptual design entries must be submitted in the Concept & Speculative Design Category. 'Concept' is defined here as a product, service, or project that is NOT available for purchase to the public or that has NOT been developed to the point of tangible production and distribution. Concept entries may also be speculative in nature and could include technologies or features that do not yet exist. If your design is scheduled for, or already in, production it should not be entered as a concept. Student projects / concepts should be entered in the Student Category. Please contact IDSA if you require further clarification –

What does “in distribution” mean?
In distribution means it’s available for purchase through normal sales channels. For the most part, this means the general public should be able to find it and purchase the product. Certain items such as aircraft, charitable services, expensive medical equipment, etc. will be considered "in distribution" if orders have been taken from the end client.

Is it ok to include text on the images?
Yes, except on the first glamour shot, which may be used if you win. This should be minimal, however; let the pictures speak for themselves whenever you can!

Can I enter the same design in more than one category?
Yes, but you must pay a separate entry fee for each category entered.

Can the same design win in more than one category?
Yes, but not in two product categories (for example, not in both Consumer Technology and Lifestyle & Accessories). The same design can win in a product category as well as in a design category (i.e., Design Strategy). Organizers and judges have the right to move designs into the category where the design will have the best chance of winning without consulting the entrant.

Can I enter a family of products as one entry?
Yes! Make sure the whole family is in the glamour shots. Remember: typically, no product will be assessed independent of the others; they will be judged as one group. The judges have the ability and authority to ‘pull’ one out of the line-up if they feel this is warranted. Judges also have the ability and authority to group individually submitted products into a family.

Can I edit my entry materials?
You are able to save and edit your entry materials at any point prior to submitting your entry. However once the entry has been submitted, the system automatically locks all the content and you are no longer able to edit your submission. 



Do I have to pay before I can enter?
You can create your online account and upload all of your entry materials in advance of paying; as long as the payment is received and entry is submitted before the regular deadline, no late fees will be assessed. Any entries paid for after the regular entry deadline, however, will be assessed late fees.

Other than entry fees, what fees will winners be obligated to pay?
When entering IDEA, you will pay the Round 1 initial entry fee. If your product is invited to continue into Round 2 of the competition, there is an additional entry fee to continue on in the competition.  We do not require winners to pay anything extra for Yearbook and website inclusion, logos, etc. Trophies will be shipped directly to winners at no additional cost. Should you choose to attend the awards ceremony gala, you will need to purchase an individual Gala ticket or International Design Conference ticket. 

Will I be charged the late entry price if I put the entry in my cart during the regular period?
Our rates are determined at the time you submit the entries in your cart. Regardless of when you add the submission to your cart, we cannot offer you regular pricing if you wait to submit the entry until the late period.

How do I pay late fees?
If you submit a late entry, the online entry software automatically will add the late fee to your account and you will be responsible for settling your account prior to the final deadline.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and wire/bank transfers.

I am an IDSA member, but my member discount rate isn't visible in the online award systems' check out process. How can I receive the IDEA member rate so that I can complete my submission?
Please try logging out of the award and membership websites, clearing your browser history, then login again to see the member pricing. If you still have trouble seeing the member discount in your cart, please reach out to for assistance.

Can I request a refund? 
Sorry, there are no refunds. If you submit payment for an entry and then decide not to enter the competition or miss the entry deadlines, IDSA does not issue refunds.



What products are eligible to be sent to The Henry Ford?
Entries that progress to Round 2 of the competition will be invited to send a physical example of the product to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan (USA). These products will be reviewed by IDEA judges during Round 2 of the competition. Finalists will be notified and provided shipping details at the conclusion of the Round 1 portion of the compeition. Participation in this portion of the program is encouraged, though optional.

Please note:

  • Size and weight limitations do apply.
  • Prototypes, concepts, appearance models (or similar) are not accepted by the Museum and should not be sent. 
  • All precautions should be taken when shipping your product, but IDSA and THF cannot be held responsible for damage to products during the shipping process.

  • Participants are responsible for paying for all shipping fees. 

What items are kept by The Henry Ford Museum?
Only IDEA Gold, Silver, Bronze winning entries will have the opportunity to be kept by The Henry Ford Museum to be included in their permanent collection. Items that do not win Gold, Silver, Bronze recognitions will be returned (at owners expense) or disposed of. 




How are judges selected for IDEA?
IDSA works with the Jury Chair, a designer who is appointed each year by the Chair of IDSA's Board of Directors, to assemble a diverse and international team of experts across all industries in the competition. If you wish to nominate yourself or someone for participation on a future IDEA Jury, please email your recommendations to

How are IDEA entries judged?
IDEA uses a 'blind' judging process which means that the designers, their names and the names or logos of consulting firms may not appear anywhere in the entry form or image/file uploads. All entries are judged against the following criteria:

  • Design Innovation - How new is the product? What critical problem is it solving? How clever is the solution? Does it advance a product category?
  • Benefit to User - How is the user’s life improved through this design? Can they accomplish things not previously possible?
  • Benefit to Client/Brand - What is the business impact of this design? How has leveraging design proven to be a key market differentiator?
  • Benefit to Society - Does the solution consider social and cultural factors? Is it designed/manufactured with sustainable methods/materials?
  • Appropriate Aesthetics - Does the form of the design adequately relate to its use/function? Are the colors/materials/finishes used befitting to its purpose?

How many winners are selected each year?
IDSA makes no guarantees as to the number and level of IDEAs given each year. All entries are reviewed my multiple judges and only the top scoring entries are awarded top honors. 



When/where is the IDEA Ceremony and Gala?
IDEA 2023 winners will be announced live in person, online and on social media promotions in August 2023. The award winner ceremony presentation will take place in person in New York, New York (USA). Details to follow.

Who is entitled to receive a trophy? 
One trophy will be given to each Gold, Silver or Bronze-winning design. All winners have the option of purchasing extra trophies. Should you wish to order additional trophies, contact

When will I receive my certificate(s)? 
Digital certificates are available to all finalists and winners. They will be available for download from your online account starting in August. Print certificates will be available for featured finalist orders starting in September.

What is the difference between a Finalist and Featured Finalist?
A 'Finalist’ is any entry that is invited and completes payment to participate in Round 2 of the IDEA competition but does not win a Gold, Silver, or Bronze award. A ‘Featured Finalist’ is a paid opportunity for increased promotional visibility which is offered to Finalists. The Featured Finalist designation does not indicate that the entry placed above, higher, or outperformed that of a Finalist. 

When and where can I purchase copies of the INNOVATION Yearbook of Excellence? 
These will be available for purchase online when the annual INNOVATION Yearbook of Excellence is published, typically around October each year. Copies of past Yearbooks can be ordered directly here or contact IDSA / call 703.707.6000.