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 funding to support their venture research & development (R&D).
Selected by a panel of judges, teams with the best understanding of an important problem will receive $7,500 for R&D to create a solution to their 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. All competition finalists will receive a minimum of $2,000 in funding to support their R&D.
- Choose a problem
- Students can pitch an important problem on a topic of their choosing.
- Students can opt to research and pitch their understanding on an important problem within the Problem Lab's existing Billion Dollar Problem topics
- Document the problem and conduct a problem analysis using our methods
- Refer to the Library's guide for conducting research for the Problem Pitch.
- Submit your application
- Participate in the pitch
This competition is open to teams of 1 to 4 students. We encourage teams to bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and areas of study. Teams must have a least one 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Book a 1:1 with Problem Lab
Would you like to book a 1:1 meeting with Problem Lab staff to disuss the specific problem you wish to pursue? Fill in the meeting form to connect with a member of the Problem Lab team.
Choose a problem
Students can choose to research and pitch an analysis of any problem they wish to. We understand a number of initial inspirations for problems can come from a vareity of personal and work-related experiences.
Students are also welcome to look to the Problem Lab's briefs on Billion Dollar Problem topics when considering a problem to research. Sample topics include:
- Carbon Capture - The removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere experiences technical and affordability challenges.
- Climate-Driven Environmental Emergencies - The effects of a changing climate put human systems, like infrastructure, at risk.
- Discovery Tools - Significant obstacles and limitations to research in biological and physical sciences.
- Engineered Foods - Changing consumer preferences and nutritional awareness challenges processed food manufacturers.
- Fitness Technology - Fitness technologies and operators are challenged to attract and retain consumers long-term.
- Space Technology - Still in its early days, opportunities in space tech are exceptionally wide.
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.
|Spring 2021 competition timeline||Date/Time||Information|
|Applications open||Monday, May 10|
|Problem Lab staff available for 1:1 meetings with potential applicants||
Tuesday, May 11 - Friday, May 28
|Scheduled on Teams
(Book a meeting with us!)
|Application deadline||Sunday, May 30 @ 11:59pm|
|Semi-finalists selected||Thursday, June 24|
|Competition finalists selected||Monday, July 12|
|Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Finals||
Monday, July 26 @ 7pm
|Finalists pitch their problems, followed by Q&A with the judging panel|
There are 3 distinct deliverables that teams will be responsible for over the course of the competition:
- 1-page Briefing Note describing the team's chosen problem
- A 5-minute pitch describing the problem in detail
- (up to) 10 minutes of Q&A between the team and the panel of judges during the competition finals
A more detailed explanation of these deliverables is available and will also be sent to teams during the competition.
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.