The Problem Lab presents the Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch. The competition invites teams of up to four students to choose an important industry problem and thoroughly research its history, scope, and impact. Students pitch their findings to a panel of judges to compete for a share of up to $30,000 in grant funding.
Teams with the best understanding of an important problem will receive $7,500 to research and develop a solution to the identified problem. Teams will have an opportunity to double their prize winnings post-event if they are able to demonstrate financial need and progress over time, in consultation with the Problem Lab.
- Choose a problem and pitch category you'd like to participate in.
Open Pitch: Students can pitch an important problem on a topic of their choosing.
- Billion Dollar Problems: Students can opt to research and pitch their understanding on an important problem within topics presented by Larry Smith at the Billion Dollar Briefing Intro Session, organized by Concept .
- Open Pitch: Students can pitch an important problem on a topic of their choosing.
- Document the problem and conduct a problem analysis using our methods.
- Submit your application.
- Attend the research workshop on Tuesday, October 1st in AL 105. Food will be provided!
- Participate in the pitch.
This competition is open to teams of 1 to 4 people. We encourage teams to bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and areas of study. The team member pitching at the competition must be a current full-time, or part-time, University of Waterloo student (undergraduate or graduate). All members are encouraged to attend prep sessions prior to the competition.
Choose a problem
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) Data - The ability for machine learning to create powerful applications across a wide range of applications and industries is severely limited by the availability of adequate training data.
- Climate-Driven Environmental Emergencies - The effects of a changing climate put human systems, like infrastructure, at risk.
- Digital Ads - The growing ineffectiveness of online advertising.
- Discovery Tools - Significant obstacles and limitations to research in biological and physical sciences.
- Educational Games - The ineffectiveness to make games that are successful and contribute to education.
- Entertainment Machinery - The entertainment industry has a powerfully continuing need for new entertainment attractions and environments.
- Human-Proof Cybersecurity - Cybersecurity failures caused by human error or malicious intent.
- Infection Control - The need to disinfect and sterilize environments against biological agents.
- Manufacturing Robots - The use of robots in mass manufacturing has been plagued by serious limitations in effectiveness.
- Mosquito Repellent - The need to effectively repel mosquitos and insects without harm to insects or humans.
- Non-Lethal Weapons - The need to restrain persons without causing harm.
- Non-Networked IT - Industrial and power generation facilities need to secure IT that is networked and detached from the rest of their systems.
- Recommendation Engines - The need for recommendation engines to serve e-commerce and search.
- Talent Identification - There is a lack of an accurate, reliable and systemic means to assess talent.
- Truth-Teller - The difference between true and false information online.
How to research a problem
Our methodology for identifying important problems allows you to judge importance objectively and dependably. For each chosen problem, conduct the following analysis:
- Start looking for important problems in domains you find personally interesting.
- Document as many examples of important problems as you can find.
- Select a problem for further investigation.
- Analyze the scale, context, and history of the problem. Critically evaluate the past attempts to solve the problem.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
|Fall 2019 competition timeline||Date/Time||Location|
|Application opens||Wednesday, September 4|
Monday, September 30, 11:59 p.m.
|Research workshop with UWaterloo Entrepreneurship Librarian||
Tuesday, October 1, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
|Teams accepted after initial screening||Friday, October 4|
|One-on-one mentoring sessions with accepted teams||Monday, October 7 - Thursday, October 10||MC 2057|
|Pitch deck submission deadline||Sunday, October 27, 11:59 p.m.|
|Competition semi-finalists notified||Wednesday, October 30|
|Practice pitch day 1||Monday, November 4 , 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.||
|Practice pitch day 2||Thursday, November 7, 10:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.||RCH 206|
|Competition qualifiers||Tuesday, November 12, 5:00 - 7:30 p.m.||AL 105|
|Competition finalists notified||Tuesday, November 12|
|Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition||Thursday, November 14 from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.||
E7 Pitch Space (2nd Floor Atrium)
Funding provided by the Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition is to be used for research and development (R&D) toward a solution to the problem identified. Funds must be used within one year of receiving the monies and will be administered through reimbursement of approved expenses. All receipts and documentation must be provided.
The decision to award one or two competition winners is at the judges’ discretion. Winners may be eligible for additional funding, up to the amount of the initial funding, based on their R&D progress.
The Problem Pitch Competition is made possible by $300,000 in funding from Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, principals of Quantum Valley Investments® and founders of Blackberry.