Back in May, when the call went out to participate in The Pandemic Challenge, University of Waterloo students were quick to answer. We had 69 different teams opt-in made up of over 130 students from across all faculties and academic levels. These entrepreneurial students worked their way through the challenge doing extensive research, attending workshops, meeting with coaches, and committing to solving global problems. After a semester of hard work, we opened applications to the Pandemic Challenge Fund and encouraged them to apply so they could receive grant funding to continue working on their ideas.
Of the 69 teams that joined the Pandemic Challenge, we had 25 apply to compete in the Pandemic Challenge Fund. From those applicants, we narrowed it down to the top ten most promising as selected by our judges. The next step was to convince our judges that they had the potential to truly make something great. With $3K in funding on the line, they practiced and perfected their deliveries and created some stellar pitch videos detailing their innovations and initiatives.
The winning teams showed that they had thoroughly researched the problem at hand, and had come with a realistic and deployable solution. Our judges also considered the sustainability of their solution, and the future it had in a post COVID world. Congratulations to everyone that participated in the Pandemic Challenge. You have once again shown that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at UWaterloo, no matter what the world brings. For the participants who did not win, we encourage you to continue to work on your ideas and develop your solutions. After all, the Fall 2020 Concept $5K is only a couple short months away!
Pandemic Challenge Fund Winners
Decomp is an organic plastic waste disposal solution that utilizes bioreactor technology to create and maintain the optimal growing conditions for plastic degrading microbes to facilitate the degradation of plastics.
Gabriel Saunders, Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, University of Waterloo
Caleb Seward, Master of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo
Tooba Mohtsham, Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, University of Waterloo
Although we believed that plastic waste pollution was already an issue that needed immediate addressing, identifying that the current pandemic has resulted in a surge of specific forms of plastic waste from personal protective equipment (i.e. plastic gloves and disposable masks) to plastic takeout containers, has provided us with added evidence that this is an extremely pressing problem at this particular moment in time.
OpenMeal is a three-sided platform that bridges the COVID-19 gap between struggling restaurants and individuals who are food insecure through donations raised from fundraising campaigns, while empowering our diners with a power of choice.
Iris Guo, Accounting & Financial Management, University of Waterloo
Pandemic challenge helped me and my team to convey our mission into spoken words. This is the first competition that I pitched OpenMeal and it opened up the door of many more to come. The main value is to improve our pitch & operations through the feedback from judges and Concept coaches.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Pandemic Challenge, and all the units on campus that made this possible! We could not have done this without the work and dedication of Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, GreenHouse, Problem Lab, University of Waterloo Library, and the Centre for Peace Advancement. As being shown around the world through this pandemic, Its amazing what we can accomplish when we work together.