$20,000 innovation challenge launched

A $20,000 innovation challenge aims to assist our region to recover and rebuild  

THREE LONDON-BASED ORGANIZATIONS have come together to harness the power of great ideas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Libro Credit Union, Pillar Nonprofit Network and TechAlliance have combined to launch Recovery & Rebuilding the Region: Design Challenges, which aims to put vital ideas into action in Southwestern Ontario.

The challenges empower and support innovators in addressing two critical problems: responding to the immediate health and social issues of COVID-19; and revitalizing and rebuilding our communities.

The challenges are open to individuals or teams of people who are involved in startups, growth enterprises and nonprofits. They seek to mobilize people with great ideas that are needed now, during the COVID-19 crisis. Applicants are encouraged to design with empathy for those most affected by COVID-19, and to be mindful of diverse perspectives as they create their solutions. The challenges are co-presented by Communitech in the Waterloo Region, and WEtech Alliance in Windsor-Essex.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the best minds in Southwestern Ontario to address directly the once-in-a-generation threat that is affecting all our lives,” said Jill Brush, Libro Credit Union regional agriculture and commercial manager. “Since the pandemic began, everyone in our society has been clamouring for solutions to so many problems. Now we want to create a chance to find those solutions. Libro is committed to playing its part and we call on everyone in the community to promote and discuss The Design Challenge, and to join it if they can.”

The stage-one Design Challenge will focus on immediate COVID-19 issues. Applications open on Thursday, April 30 and close on Saturday, May 2; the successful application will be announced on Tuesday, May 5.

Along with $20,000 in funding, the successful applicant will work with coaches from each of the Design Challenge partners to develop a final product, service, process or collaborate. Given the timeliness of the matter, partners will work collaboratively to move the project swiftly to completion by engaging further community resources and networks as needed.

The second stage of the Design Challenges will focus on recovery and rebuilding and revitalizing the community, post-COVID-19. It will follow a similar challenge process.

“Along with crisis comes creativity, and we are seeing countless acts of selflessness, resourcefulness and resilience in our community,” added Michelle Baldwin, executive director at Pillar Nonprofit Network. “The Design Challenges will inspire and amplify those efforts by sharing stories from across the region and providing resources to one innovation. We know that now more than ever we need to find solutions that address our most pressing challenges and focus on those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

Interested parties can access further information and apply here.

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