Harnessing the power of problem analysis

The Problem Lab identifies and understands important problems to create innovations with disruptive economic and social consequence. We help established organizations, newly created ventures, and aspiring entrepreneurs recognize obstacles.


Are you interested in entrepreneurship, a problem, or developing your research and analysis skills? Learn how to examine a problem from many different perspectives at an event, workshop, or competition. 

External partners

Businesses, non-profit organizations, charities, and public agencies seek our assistance with problem analysis. Faculty and staff can conduct the analysis, supervise a student team to do so, or help partners create their own analyses.

  1. Apr. 29, 2021Larry Smith stepping down as Problem Lab director

    The iconic Larry Smith is ironically stepping away from a start-up. He is stepping away from his director role in The Problem Lab student innovation program. Smith founded The Problem Lab in 2018 and has served as its director ever since.

  2. Mar. 24, 2021Congratulations Winter 2021 Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Winners
    problem pitch winners banner

    This semester we saw a group of 12 amazing finalists deliver their deep understanding of important commercial problems affecting a variety of industries.

    The teams had 5-minutes to distill and record their pitch detailing the problem they identified. Judges selected winners that were best able to demonstrate they had the most thorough analysis of the problem. With multiple teams emerging as the top picks from the judges, we are excited to annouce three winning teams that each left with $7,500 in R&D funding to finance the development of a solution to the problems they presented!

    Congratulations to the winners and all the finalists in this semester’s Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch competition.

    Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch winners

    Billion Dollar Problem Stream

    AI Ethics 

    The problem:

    Biases within Machine Learning (ML) Models and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms have caused unfair discrimination to less represented or unrepresented populations.

    Monica Tsang - Arts, Psychology

    Open Problems Stream


    The problem:

    Safety plans, a proven suicide intervention strategy, lacks effectiveness in non-controlled settings.

    Hanna Kyowski - MBET, Engineering

  3. Mar. 15, 2021Winter 2021 Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Finalists Announced
    Problem Pitch event graphic with dates

    To be a successful entrepreneur, it is essential that you find an important problem to solve, and thoroughly understand its scope, scale, and history. That’s why the Problem Lab hosts the Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition, where teams of students are tasked with the challenge of identifying important industry problems and conducting research, before pitching their findings for the chance to win a share of up to $30,000 in funding.

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  1. Sep. 11, 2020The Problem with Recessions: Businesses Should Continue to Innovate
    photo of building exterior

    The price for a long run bull market has finally come. Since the spread of COVID-19 this year, most countries have had a devastating blow to their economies. This current global economic contraction is expected to be the worst since the Great Depression.

    What does the current recession mean for new start-ups and mature companies?

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