Igniting Impact


Next Challenge Session

The next Igniting Impact session is 5:30 pm on April 10 to brainstorm solutions to global challenges provided by the Impact Centre team or to discuss your own ideas. Apply now!

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Calling on science & engineering grad students & postdocs

Learn what it takes to transform a technology into a product. Work with our dedicated staff to brainstorm ideas and guide your passion towards making a real difference. Use your science to make a positive impact on society.

Don’t have an idea? Our Guided Challenges will identify a grand challenge to which you can apply your technical expertise. Already have an idea? Join our Open Challenges where we can help refine your idea and help you plan out next steps!

Apply for the program as an individual or as a team for the opportunity to work one-on-one with Impact Centre staff to develop your idea and the opportunity to a cash prize! 

Mark Elias founded Steadiwear to help people suffering from Parkinson's disease and other hand tremors
What are the events like?

During each event, we’ll:

  • Hear about your past and present research projects, skills, and expertise.
  • Help you seek out societal and business challenges that align with your skillset and interests.
  • Brainstorm ideas to solve those challenges or refine your existing ideas.
  • Serve you a good dinner to get the ideas flowing!
What are the guided challenges?

CHALLENGE 1: Food Preservation and Processing Technologies for Subsistence Farmers

Subsistence farmers grow food primarily for themselves and their families and do not make money by selling what they grow on the market (they trade some food for other goods). A current challenge is that many of these small farms are in remote and difficult-to-reach locations and the short shelf life of agricultural products make it difficult for these farmers’ surplus food to reach a local market. We believe that better access to affordable equipment for food preservation and processing can assist these farming families escape the cycle of poverty by allowing them to sell surplus food.

CHALLENGE 2: Combatting Hidden Hunger

People (especially children) in poverty may have a sufficient caloric intake in general, but their daily food intake may be deficient in vitamins and minerals that are required for good health. The exact combination of deficient micronutrients is location dependent, but the key targets are vitamin A, iodine, iron, and zinc. Health consequences of this hidden hunger include visual impairment, goiter, anemia, and weakened immune systems. We are seeking technologies that can cost-effectively combat chronic undernutrition for people with very low income.

CHALLENGE 3: Reduction of Healthcare-Associated Infections

In Canada, 1 in 10 hospitalized patients develop an infection that they picked up at the hospital—this is troubling because making patients sick is opposite to what hospitals should do and because this extends hospital stays in an already strained healthcare system. Proper handwashing, equipment sterilization, and surface cleaning are all known ways to reduce the risk of these nosocomial infections, but infections still occur. We are looking for innovative technological solutions for infection prevention and control here in Canada and in healthcare facilities around the world.

 CHALLENGE 4: Technology to Guide Antimicrobial Stewardship

The emergence of superbugs—microbes resistant to many or all antimicrobial agents—is a major public health issue that may become a major public health crisis as more and more people become ill with untreatable infections. These superbugs emerge largely because of the overuse of antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics, as they encourage the natural selection of strains with drug resistance genes. Antimicrobial stewardship is the collection of strategies and interventions with the aim to improve the selection and use of antimicrobial agents by healthcare professionals in order to mitigate this evolutionary pressure. We are looking for innovative ideas of how technology can be used to encourage the proper use of antimicrobial agents. 

    Who has done this before?
    • Pooja Viswanathan (Ph.D., computer science) used her research project to found Braze Mobility, a company that sells a proprietary product that enables people in electric wheelchairs to navigate tight spaces and avoid collisions.
    • Kevin Jakiela and Conner Tidd (both M.Sc., environmental science and sustainability management) founded Just Vertical to make indoor farming easier for city dwellers because they believe local food can reduce our harmful impact on the environment.
    • Mayrose Salvador (Ph.D., chemistry) founded Pueblo Science, a Canadian charity that improves science education around the developing world, because she beleives that scientific knowledge is an effective method to advance health and achieve economic success.
    • Michael Montgomery (Ph.D., structural engineering) developed a new damper technology as part of his thesis and founded Kinetica Dynamics to improve the resilience of high-rise buildings from both wind and earthquake damage.
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