City of Kingston launches Mayor’s Innovation Challenge

Students to propose innovative solutions to city problems, winners receive paid internship

Mayor Paterson speaking about the new Innovation Challenge.

Post-secondary students in Kingston now have the chance to implement their own project during a four-month paid internship with the city through the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge. 

The recently created Mayor’s Innovation Challenge is looking for students and recent graduates from Queen’s, Royal Military College and St. Lawrence College to submit applications. To be eligible, the team must suggest a solution to a problem affecting the Kingston area. 

Students can submit proposals related to one of three categories: cultivating creative public spaces, strengthening active transportation networks or enhancing local attraction for youth.

Teams may include up to four students and must have at least 50 per cent of their members enrolled in a Kingston post-secondary institution. The winning team will be employed with the city as paid interns for the summer. 

In an interview with The Journal, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson spoke about the city’s motivation for creating this challenge. It’s something he hopes will become an annual event. 

“We’ve been very interested at the city level for a while about how to better engage students in the community — how to give them opportunities to use the talent and creativity we know they have,” Paterson said.

“We know there are emerging entrepreneurs across campus and [we] thought there might be an ability for a win-win: to give them an opportunity to apply their skills, but also help to solve real issues and problems that we’re facing as a city.”

According to the City of Kingston website, the competition allows for students to create innovative and feasible projects that will “impact the lives of 125,000 people.” The winning team — to be selected by the Mayor and senior staff — will work with a $10,000 budget to implement their project under the guidance of City mentors. 

According to Paterson, the three categories were chosen because they address specific challenges that Kingston faces. 

“Not only are they issues we want to solve, but we really felt that our post-secondary students would have the ideas and the energy and the creativity to offer some really innovative solutions,” Paterson explained.  

“We’re interested in a creative, cost-effective solution to the problems we’ve laid out in the challenge,” he added. “We’re also interested in providing open doors for new talent to work for the city.” 

Proposals are due by January 22 of 2018, with invitations to the pitch competition sent by January 26. Following this, the actual pitch off will occur on February 9. According to the city’s website, the competition is being supported by Bell Canada, the Queen’s Centre for Advanced Computing and the Queen’s Centre for Social Impact.

Mayor Paterson hopes to see many students within the Kingston community submit proposals, as he knows the competition will be of great value to students. 

“To be able to showcase that not only have I learned these skills in the classroom, but this is what I’ve been able to do with those skills and apply it to a real world situation … that’s something that will be valuable,” Paterson said.  


City of Kingston, innovation, internship, Mayor's Innovation Challenge, post-secondary students

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