New Social Innovation Challenge encourages student entrepreneurship

A new competition at Carleton this semester—the first of its kind in Canada—aims to better help students help the community.

This competition, called the Social Innovation Challenge, gives students the opportunity to apply their creative talents to finding innovative solutions to community needs. Any Carleton student can participate, as long as he or she registers by February 26. A kickoff workshop will be held on February 7.

The Social Innovation Challenge has been co-founded and organized jointly by the Community Foundation of Ottawa’s ENGAGE! Program and Carleton’s Foundry Program. “Until now, there have been few outlets for students and faculty at Carleton to test ideas,” says Luc Lalande, Director of the Foundry Program. “Our goal is to make it easier for them to try out their ideas in the community.” Coralie Lalonde, BA/90, MA/93, is a successful entrepreneur who helped start up the ENGAGE! Program. Using technology to help the community has long been of interest to Lalonde. She is well versed in community needs, spending about half of her spare time contributing to charity. “Our goal is to encourage entrepreneurship, not just among students in science and high tech, but also among students in public affairs and the arts,” says Lalonde.

“Every student, no matter what his or her background, should be able to serve the community in the way he or she feels is best.” The Challenge allows teams of students, with each team under the direction of a professor, to identify a social need in the community and then develop a unique solution to it. Solutions can range from designing a better inventory system for a food bank to better managing the budget for a community fundraiser.

The organizers hope that 10 to 12 teams will compete this year for the top prize of $1,000, which will be evenly divided between the winning team and a community group of the team’s choice.

All participants will also have the chance to showcase their work to community leaders, chief executive officers, charities and people from Carleton on March 20. The event will be highly publicized and will provide participating students with an unparalleled opportunity to network and make new contacts with community leaders.

More details about the competition are available at

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