The Improve Life Challenge Returns

On Friday, March 6th, the Improve Life Challenge will return to the University of Guelph to challenge students from across campus to work with community partners to develop solutions to real-world problems. This year, interdisciplinary student teams will work with one of nine community partners under the theme of Hack the Farm: Designing Solutions for the Agriculture and Food Industry in a Climate of Change.

Who Can Apply To Participate?

Any student registered at the University of Guelph can participate. This includes any undergraduate student or graduate student, from any discipline.

Note: If you participate in the Improve Life Challenge, you will be expected to take part in a pre-event knowledge mobilization workshop. The workshops will be held the week prior to the Improve Life Challenge, and run from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm (food will be provided, room and dates will be announced shortly).

How Do I Apply, And When Are Applications Due?

The deadline to apply to participate in the Improve Life Challenge is Friday, January 31st. You can apply by clicking here.

Who Are The Community Partners?

Great question! You can get a full list of our partners and their specific challenges here.

Do I Have What It Takes To Help?

If you are wondering if you are the right fit for the Improve Life Challenge, you are. The Improve Life Challenge is about diversity of thought; diversity of student experience; diversity of ideas. We do not expect you to have a solution to any of the community partners’ problems before the event, nor do we need you to have any specific technical or disciplinary skillsets. You simply need to have ideas, be open to new ways of looking at problems, and have a desire to have some fun while we’re improving life.

Are There Prizes?

Yes! Of course! The nine student teams have the opportunity to compete for three prizes:

  • 1st: $1600
  • 2nd: $800
  • 3rd: $400

We will also be giving away door prizes throughout the day, and providing details shortly about further funding opportunities following the event.

What About Food And Coffee?

Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. The event will be fully stocked with food, coffee, tea, and other beverages. Full details will be provided to participants before the event, including a rough agenda for the day.

What Can I Expect From The Improve Life Challenge?

We have carefully curated the entire Improve Life Challenge. As such, you can expect that from the minute you arrive you will be immersed in problem identification, solution ideation, prototyping, and pitching activities. A team of facilitators will work with you and your community partner to better understand and define the problem at hand, and to guide you through the process of turning that understanding into a unique prototyped solution.

What Kind Of Solutions Do You Expect?

Solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Your solution might be a new government policy, an educational or marketing campaign, a degree program or certificate program, an evaluation of existing practices that highlights new insights, a new mobile application that helps collect or visualize data, or any number of other things.

The only constraint: we expect your team’s solution to be feasible and impactful given the mission of your community partner and the resources they have to implement it.

When And Where Does The Improve Life Challenge Take Place?

  • Date: Friday, March 6th
  • Time: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Location: Arboretum Centre

And don’t forget – all participants will be expected to take part in a pre-event workshop on either March 2nd or March 3rd, from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm. Further details about the pre-event workshop will be released to participants soon.

This is the third time we are hosting the Improve Life Challenge, and the team is extremely excited to bring it back to the University of Guelph. It has evolved from a long line of interdisciplinary and community-engaged hackathons, start-up weekends, and design-jams, and each year gets better and better, with bigger challenges, more community partners, and exciting new ideas to improve life.

We hope you’ll join us. Apply today!


Other Questions?

What Exactly Is The Improve Life Challenge?

What Is Knowledge Mobilization?

Why Should I Participate In The Improve Life Challenge?

Why Are The Teams Interdisciplinary?


The Improve Life Challenge team includes:

  • April Albano, Program Coordinator, John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise
  • John Cranfield, Associate Dean External Relations, Ontario Agricultural College
  • Erin Doherty, Program Manager, John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise, Co-creator of the Improve Life Challenge
  • Caroline Duvieusart-Dery, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator, Community Engaged Scholarship Institute
  • Dan Gillis, Associate Professor, School of Computer Science, Co-creator of the Improve Life Challenge
  • Mairin Scannell, Program Coordinator, John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise
  • Elizabeth Shantz, Knowledge Mobilization Manager, Research Innovation Office
  • Bill Van Heyst, Associate Dean External Relations, College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
  • Jeanna Rex, Education Coordinator, Arrell Food Institute

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