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Investing in innovative ideas

Teams of Queen’s and St. Lawrence College students will be receiving internships and other supports to implement their city-building ideas.

Mayor Bryan Paterson (MA’01, PhD’07) poses with Gurraj Ahluwalia, Nick Kuhl, Anna Geladi, and Mac Fitzgerald, members of a winning team from the Master of Planning program. The team pitched a winter cycling network that includes a pilot project for a two-way bike lane along Johnson Street. (Supplied Photo)
Mayor Bryan Paterson (MA’01, PhD’07) poses with Gurraj Ahluwalia, Nick Kuhl, Anna Geladi, and Mac Fitzgerald, members of a winning team from the Master of Planning program. The team pitched a winter cycling network that includes a pilot project for a two-way bike lane along Johnson Street. (Supplied Photo)

The City of Kingston will be investing in projects to potentially make it easier to get around town, and make it easier to find out what’s going on.

On Friday, the winners of the first Mayor’s Innovation Challenge were announced. This new competition was designed to garner innovative ideas which could address local challenges. Postsecondary students from across Kingston were invited to submit proposals and pitch before a panel of judges for the chance to win support for their ideas.  

“We saw wonderfully creative and innovative ideas come forward through this inaugural Mayor’s Innovation Challenge and I am looking forward to seeing the winning ideas come to life through the internships awarded,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson (MA’01, PhD’07). “We have so much talent in our community and I am proud this challenge has allowed us to showcase and harness this talent to address challenges we face while supporting and launching the careers of youth in Kingston.” 

A team of four Master of Planning students took away the top prize through their proposal for a pilot project to develop a multi-seasonal cycling network. The student team, including Anna Geladi, Nick Kuhl, Mac Fitzgerald and Gurraj Ahluwalia, will receive internships with the City, a $10,000 budget and support from City staff to help implement their project.

“The four of us came together to take on the Mayor’s Challenge because of our shared passion for active transportation,” says Mr. Fitzgerald. “It is both exciting and validating to have won the competition, knowing how much work we put into our proposal and that our ideas resonated with the judges and the City. We are all looking forward to seeing some of our suggestions come to fruition this summer and eager to become even more involved with active transportation planning in Kingston through our internship.”

Two proposals, each focused on enhancing local attractions and learning opportunities for youth through event applications, tied to win the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) internship sponsored by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). During the pitches, it became clear that there were strong synergies and complementary strengths between the two groups, and the judging panel encouraged them to merge and join the QICSI program as a team of four.

These teams, consisting of Queen’s students Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes (Artsci’19) and William Medeiros (Sc’18) and St. Lawrence College students Mark Mathieu and Brandon Crausen, will receive $7,000 stipends per team member for the summer and $4,000 in seed capital for their ideas.

“I'm incredibly excited to have the opportunity and the resources to realize an idea that just a few months ago was nothing more than brainstorming over paper plates of pad thai,” says Mr. Medeiros. “I'm incredibly appreciative to the judges for recognizing the synergy between the original teams and proposing a merger. I think we'll do great work together.”

James McLellan, Academic Director for the DDQIC, was one of the judges and says there was a palpable dynamic of excitement and sense of purpose in council chambers during the pitches.

“I’m very pleased and excited to be working with the City of Kingston on these social innovation projects,” says James McLellan, Academic Director for the DDQIC. “As a “townie” myself, I am impressed and grateful for the commitment that Mayor Patterson has shown to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in the Kingston region, and I’m excited to see the close collaboration with the City of Kingston growing.”

The Mayor’s Innovation Challenge was made possible through partnership and collaboration with Bell Canada, Queen’s Centre for Advanced Computing, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, the Queen’s Centre for Social Impact, Royal Military College, and St. Lawrence College.