CollabNow: Breaking Barriers

First place winning team with their first prize winnings
First place winners: Reimagining Waste Management.

Today I had the honour of being a judge at The Entrepreneurship Society at the University of Guelph’s (ESatUoG) CollabNow: Breaking Barriers event. Held at Innovation Guelph, the event brought together 7 multidisciplinary teams of students from the University of Guelph and the University of Waterloo. Students who attended came from varied backgrounds including economics, marketing, business, computer science, and engineering.

The morning began with two excellent talks by local entrepreneurs Rob Hannam, Founder & President of Synthesis, and Carly O’Brien, Principal & Lead Coach of The Achievement Centre. Both offered some excellent entrepreneurial advice, and lessons they’ve learned throughout the years.

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Second place winners: Green Roofing Guelph

After the talks students were put into random groups and challenged with a case study (below). The goal: develop a solution for the City of Guelph given projected population growth. After an hour of brainstorming and research, seven teams pitched their ideas. I’d like to say that judging the contest was easy, but to be honest it wasn’t. All of the ideas were fantastic, well thought out, and well presented. I’d love to see what these teams could do if they had more than an hour to develop their solutions.

Ultimately the judges picked two winning teams. In second place, a proposal to develop a green roofed city. In first place, a proposal to develop an improved waste management system that recycles upwards of 98% of Guelph’s waste into reusable and saleable materials. Honourable mention went to the team who wanted to improve transit using Google autonomous cars.

Congrats to all of the students, and especially to the organizers for hosting a fantastic event. Thanks to the ESatUoG for inviting me to be a judge. I’m looking forward to the next CollabNow event.

Case Study:

The City of Guelph has been identified in the Government of Ontario’s Places to Grow Strategy. It’s expected that by 2031, the population of Guelph could increase by 40%. This growth will bring with it significant opportunities and challenges. To facilitate sustainable, informed, and beneficial growth, it’s important to develop solutions for the City of Guelph that consider environmental, fiscal, and social responsibility.

Your task is to identify one of the challenges/opportunities that Guelph faces given population growth. Some examples include: management of limited natural resources (such as water), social issues (food insecurity, homelessness, unemployment), cultural issues (management of events, citizen engagement, downtown development), transportation issues (public transit, highway construction), urban sprawl issues (land stewardship and management), etc.

Within your teams, develop a feasible solution that addresses the challenge/opportunity you’ve identified. You should consider all aspects of the solution, including marketing plans, resource management (this includes human resources), technologies required, etc. The best solutions will be creative, simple, effective, and feasible. The best solutions should also cover multiple facets of the problem. That is, the solution should be clearly multidisciplinary, spanning the expertise of all of your team members.

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