Prestigious Innovation Contest Coming to Guelph


Guelph will host Singularity University’s first Canadian “Global Impact Competition”

This April, the first Canadian Global Impact Competition (GIC) will take place in the City of Guelph. The GIC will bring five innovators from across Canada in front of a panel of judges to present a solution to the following problem: “How can we improve the standard of living of one million Canadians in the next five years through the use of technology?”

Applications for the GIC were due on Feb. 28, and now a team of experts will begin the process of selecting from among them five finalists. The finalists will travel to Guelph for the competition’s evening gala on Apr. 2, 2014.

Global Impact Competitions are the invention of Singularity University, an institution located in NASA’s Research Park in Silicon Valley that is dedicated to addressing humanity’s “grand challenges.” Its programs are funded by high-profile donors like Google and Nokia, and emphasize emerging technologies. Singularity University was founded in 2008 by the chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, Peter Diamandis, and Google’s Engineering Director, Ray Kuzweil.

Singularity University runs GICs in countries around the world, though this is the first time they have sponsored a competition in Canada.

The winner of the first Canadian GIC will receive entry and tuition-fee enrollment to Singularity University’s 10 week long summer Graduate Studies Program, an award valued at $30,000 USD.

Innovation Guelph, a group that works to promote entrepreneurship locally, is one of the sponsors of the Canadian competition. Dr. Jamie Doran, Chief Operating Officer of Innovation Guelph, said that the group “is proud to help make Canada’s first Global Impact Competition happen.”

In an Innovation Guelph press release, Dr. Adam Little, spokesperson and organizer for the Canadian Global Impact Competition, said this about the challenge:

“The spirit of the competition is to bring together academics, scientists and entrepreneurs from across Canada who are ready to transform their big ideas into reality.”

Little happens to be an alumnus of both Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program and the University of Guelph. He was still working on his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the U of G last year when he was selected to attend the prestigious summer program in California. Of the several thousand applications received from over 40 countries, only 80 were accepted and Little was the only veterinarian to take part in the program.

The University of Guelph is also helping to sponsor the Canadian Global Impact Competition. Singularity University says it chose Guelph as the host city in recognition of its “long history of innovation in agriculture, food systems, engineering, and community development.”

In addressing the challenge question, applicants were asked to focus on one of these thematic areas: health, education, community development, resource management, and food. (The latter is presumably a nod to the host city). The GIC also expects applicants to incorporate a technology that is growing “exponentially.”

The venue for April’s gala, where the five finalist will present a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation on their solution to the panel of judges, has yet to be determined.