What is an Innovation Challenge?

Innovation Challenges are crowdsourcing competitions frequently used by organizations to engage innovators in the identification of concepts, technologies and solutions that support activity in priority areas, spur scientific or technological breakthroughs, or address specific social issues or problems.

Regardless of purpose or desired output, incentive-based competition enables sponsoring organizations to engage with a broad range of

innovators. This democratization of innovation exposes the problem space to a more diverse set of skills, experiences and perspectives than typically available in other more traditional approaches.

Our approach to designing and delivering on challenges has been to shift away from the traditional transactional relationship between challenge winners and sponsoring organizations, in order to promote long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships.

PROCESS

The MaRS Innovation Challenge Process

The MaRS Innovation Challenge process involves 6 fundamental steps:

Discovery

Primary/secondary research

Scoping

Stakeholder/ecosystem engagement

Design

Resources and infrastructure development

Delivery

Challenge management and outreach

Judging

Finalist/winner selection

Post Challenge Activities

Support in solution development, implementation, or scaling

Stakeholders

Who do Innovation Challenges involve?

Sponsors

An organization, or group of organizations, looking to solve an issue.

Participants

Innovative individuals and organizations (including for-profit, not-for-profit, academic, and public institutions) who participate in an innovation challenge.

Judges

Subject matter experts who select the innovation challenge finalists and winner(s).

Designers

Experts who design innovation challenges.

Faurecia, Sponsor of the Faurecia Biosensing Safety Challenge

“The Innovation Challenge Process has proven to be highly valuable for our organization.”

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Winner of the Healthy Neighbourhoods Data Challenge

“This Challenge pushed our team outside of our traditional operating parameters to create a product that is truly innovative.”

Brave Technology Coop, Winner of the Opioid Data Challenge

“Finding ourselves in a small community of innovators focused on the same impacts has continued to drive our work and we refer to the Challenge frequently both internally and externally.”

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