the premier research and innovation competition in china

China thinks Big (CTB)


China Thinks Big (CTB) is China’s premier high school research and innovation competition, giving talented high school students around the country the opportunity to demonstrate their intellectual creativity through tackling important issues posed by professors at Harvard and other top institutions. CTB spans six months and culminates in the National Finals held at the Harvard Center Shanghai. In 2017, CTB expanded to a second National Finals site at the Stanford Center @ Peking University and held its inaugural Global Finals at Harvard. Most recently, HSBC became the official sponsor of CTB, marking the start of a long-term partnership.


A constantly innovating conference


In CTB 2017,  we invited faculty and scholars from Harvard, Yale, Peking University, Tsinghua University, as well as industry experts from top companies to pose 100 academic challenges for participants to select from and address through an original research project. These challenges span over 20 core academic disciplines of a liberal arts education and guide students to discover how global issues are reflected in their daily lives. In 2017, over 10,000 students from all over the world actively participated in the competition.

Outstanding participants had the opportunity to present their project at the Harvard Center Shanghai to top scholars and industry leaders during the National Finals. A select few finalists were also given the chance to visit Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and other elite American universities to discuss their research projects with professors and compete in hackathons, poster presentations, and case studies during the inaugural CTB Global Finals.


Past speakers at the competition include Ms. Leah Rosovsky, Vice President of Harvard, and Professor William Kirby, Chairman of the Harvard China Fund, who have applauded CTB for bringing research methodologies used in top US institutions to Chinese high school students.

Since its initial launch in 2012 as a joint initiative between Harvard and Tsinghua, CTB has become the most impactful online research competition for youth. CTB has the best track record of any competition for sending participants to the most prestigious universities in the world, and past CTB projects have influenced policy, garnered wide media coverage, and even become case studies in Chinese college entrance exams. Successful projects have also been adopted as bills in the provincial People’s Congress and many more have been featured in academic journals, CCTV, People’s Daily, and various national media outlets.

In November 2017, HSBC became the official sponsor of CTB, marking the start of a long-term partnership.



active participants


teams competing





Online followers


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