Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Queen’s rises to the World’s Challenge Challenge

A team of Queen’s students will compete this summer at a social enterprise competition hosted at Western University.

[James Hantho, Karina Bland, and Mitch Sadler of ClimaCube]
James Hantho (Comm'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18) celebrate their win at the local World's Challenge Challenge competition. The international finals take place in June in London, ON. (Supplied Photo)

Hot off the heels of their win at the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) Winter Pitch Competition, ClimaCube will represent Queen’s at an international competition designed to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) is a competition started at Western University in 2014, and expanded to include other institutions last year. The mission of the competition is to bring together students from a wide range of institutions, cultures, and continents to create potential solutions to significant global issues. Past winners include a team from Dalhousie University who planned to 3D print prosthetics in developing countries from recycled materials, and a team from The Netherlands who created a knapsack to help Indonesian anglers keep their catches cold. There are four prizes up for grabs this year, including a grand prize of $30,000.

Queen’s recently held a local competition, supported by the DDQIC, aimed at selecting a team to represent Queen’s at the WCC. Galvin Niu (Sc’19) and Jacob Riha (Sc’18) ran the local competition, which concluded this past weekend.

ClimaCube includes James Hantho (Comm'18), Leigh-Ann McKnight (Sc'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18). The team is developing portable cold storage units to maintain the quality of items such as samples or vaccinations and extend the cold lifetime (or 'cold chain') as they are in transit.

As the winning team, ClimaCube earns the right to represent Queen’s at the WCC and their costs to attend the conference will be picked up by the DDQIC.

ClimaCube is also being sponsored to attend the MassChallenge Awards with DDQIC in October 2018, which is the grand finale to the MassChallenge accelerator program in Boston. On past trips, DDQIC has taken students to lectures at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), visited local incubators, and networked with the startup community at MassChallenge – all opportunities that ClimaCube may receive this fall.

“We are all very excited about this next step in our venture’s journey,” says Ms. Bland. “Competing at The World’s Challenge Challenge at Western University in June has further motivated our team to speed up our prototyping process, which we think can greatly contribute to our success in the competition. Additionally, as Queen’s students we are excited to compete against our rival Western University.”

Members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities served as judges for the local competition, including Dirk Rodenburg, a lecturer and educational consultant; Pavel Graymason, Executive Director of Sustainable Kingston; and Chloe Beisheim of the DDQIC.

"I have judged a few of these competitions at Queen's, and it is always a refreshing and exciting experience," says Mr. Graymason. "I believe innovation is implementation, and in that respect these students are way ahead of some seasoned professionals - they have big ideas and they make them happen. All the ideas presented were great and demonstrated significant creativity and it is an honour to support them."

When scoring the proposals, judges followed criteria set by WCC organizers which looks at the strength of the proposal’s argument, its financials and feasibility, potential partners, some recognition of the origins of the problem, and three other categories.

Four teams applied to represent Queen’s at the WCC this year, and the DDQIC hopes to attract even more competitors in the future. Two runner-up teams will receive a one-year membership to SparQ Studios, a makerspace on campus designed to help these entrepreneurs further develop their ideas.

The World’s Challenge Challenge international finals take place June 3 to 8 in London, Ont. For more information, visit www.worldschallengechallenge.com