SpreadInnovation Challenge pushes students to solve COVID-19-related problems

Queen’s summer entrepreneurship program offers funding to “passionate” problem-solvers

Chosen teams will develop solutions to target specific challenges facing health care systems, economies, and communities due to COVID-19.
Journal File Photo

As part of a new University-funded program, anyone with internet access is eligible to spend their summer creating solutions to COVID-19 related challenges.

The SpreadInnovation Challenge is an online summer program organized by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) in Mitchell Hall. The program will run from May 11 to Aug. 28, including a two-week boot camp and weekly online training sessions.

Chosen teams will participate in the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) and receive up to a $5,000 stipend, more than 100 days of free online training from the QICSI, and funding milestones to implement proposed solutions.

“[COVID-19 has had] drastic impacts on vulnerable populations, workers and businesses, our healthcare systems, and our communities,” wrote Danielle Baxter, social media coordinator (DDQIC), in a statement to The Journal. “To innovate is to problem-solve, and there has never been a better time to bring together bright minds to solve problems.” 

The SpreadInnovation Challenge is a tiered program that opens new opportunities and resources to each team as they make progress in developing their solution to a chosen problem. Solutions will be designed to target the specific challenges facing health care systems, economies, and communities due to COVID-19.

The challenge includes six themes for participants to choose from: supporting the health care system, supporting those on the frontlines providing essential services, protecting vulnerable populations, helping workers and businesses that are impacted, supporting community cohesion, and helping to plan for the aftermath.

“Everyone has been uniquely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic—employees have been laid off, students have lost internships and families have had loved ones fall ill,” Baxter wrote. “This challenge is an opportunity for individuals to manage their worries, earn a bit of income, and do something purposeful with their summer.”

The SpreadInnovation Challenge is open to applicants from any location with any education level, from student entrepreneurs to community members. The DDQIC has not set a limit to the number of applicants they will accept.

To apply, those interested must form a team of three to five people. Baxter added that they hope to see teams with diverse backgrounds composed of people interested in a wide range of areas including business, technology, and arts or humanities. 

Applications for the full-time stream are due on April 24. The DDQIC is accepting part-time stream applications on a rolling basis.

“A strong application will demonstrate a passionate and diverse team eager to take action to solve a problem stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Baxter wrote.

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