Civic Innovation Awards: Winning Projects to Showcase the High Potential of City-Postsecondary Collaborations

April 29, 2016: Through the inaugural Civic Innovation Awards program, seven projects across Canada have been awarded grants of $10K to $30K to showcase innovative collaborations between cities and post-secondary institutions, announced the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and jury members today. The awards program, launched last fall as part of the Foundation’s Cities for People and RECODE initiatives, attracted 150 applicants. Jury members believe that the final winners’ ideas could also be applied in other cities across Canada.

“The projects selected show real potential to bring about positive change,” said Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of the McConnell Foundation.  “We’re delighted with the strength of the applications overall, and very hopeful that collaborations between cities, post-secondary institutions and other civic organizations are going to keep growing in impact and scale.”

Jurors were looking for projects that were highly innovative, and defined innovation to mean any “initiative, product, process or program that profoundly changes the basic routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of any social system.” The winning projects are based out of Iqaluit, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Guelph, and Toronto. The grand-prize winner calls for the creation of a Northern Innovation Hub for Iqaluit. The project seeks to solve two problems in one go: taking disused sea shipping containers that litter the coast and repurposing them to provide badly needed commercial and residential space.

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In addition to recognizing the work of the winners, the Foundation will be inviting them to the New Cities Summit in Montreal this June to connect with other like-minded global urban innovators.

These are the winning projects:

 

Grand Prize Winner ($30K): Northern Innovation Hub
City: Iqaluit, Nunavut | Post-secondary partner: Enactus at University of Ottawa | Community Partners: SeaCans Development ltd., Kakivak Association, Carrefour Nunavut, Inspire Nunavut 

This project seeks to solve two problems in one go: taking disused sea shipping containers that litter the local coastline and repurposing them to provide badly needed commercial and residential space. The aim is that the Northern Innovation Hub become the catalyst for further change in Iqaluit, where the city is in need for a space to facilitate the planning that is required for adaptation to the increasing local urbanization.

Second Prize Winner ($20K): Local Economic Development Lab
City: Vancouver | Post-secondary partner: Simon Fraser University (RADIUS) | Community Partner: Ecotrust

In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, more than 60% of residents depend on Income Assistance and informal work. The Local Economic Development Lab (LEDlab), will build, test and scale practices that put money in the pockets of local residents and increase local ownership of neighbourhood assets. 

Second Prize Winner ($20K): MR-63
City: Montreal |Post-secondary partner: HEC Montréal (University of Montreal), Morin Bordeleau brothers, Rayside Labossiere Architect | Community Partner: Quartier de l’innovation

This project will repurpose seven disused subway cars (the iconic MR-63 trains used in Montreal’s metro since the 1960s) in order to build a three-story building in the Quartier de l’innovation of Montreal. This building will house a bar/coffee shop as well as an art exhibition area, and will be installed in a green public space. The purpose of this project is to attract attention to locally produced eco-friendly products and provide visibility to local artists. 

Second Prize Winner ($20K): Vivacity
City: Calgary | Post-secondary partner: Mount Royal University |Community partner: Calgary Economic Development (CED)

Vivacity is an inter-institutional collaboration between six postsecondary institutions and the City of Calgary. Vivacity engages inter-disciplinary teams of students in the re-design and activation of community spaces in underutilized areas. This project will deepen student engagement in urban issues, empower young people to lead an active civic life and provide Calgary with new and innovative ideas for underutilized and abandoned spaces. 

Third Prize Winner ($10K): Civic Accelerator
City: Guelph | Post-secondary partner: University of Guelph | Community Partners: City of Guelph, Guelph Lab 

The Civic Accelerator will enable students, start ups and other private sector teams to develop and prototype innovative solutions to municipal challenges. The Accelerator emerged from ongoing work to unlock the civic potential of the University through collaboration with the City, in support of open government.

Third Prize Winner ($10K): Community BUILD
City: York Region | Post-secondary partners: York University & Seneca College | Community partner: ventureLAB and United Way Toronto

This project will support a “DesignJam” – a two-day collaborative event that will help find new solutions to local priorities such as youth unemployment and food insecurity. The DesignJam brings together a diverse collection of community members, including youth from the York Region District School Board and experts from partnering institutions for two days of intense, collaborative work. This is part of a greater effort in the region to help businesses that are “mission-driven” – that is, pursuing a positive social or economic impact.

Third Prize Winner ($10K): Building a Virtual Knowledge Commons for Pop-up Shops
City: Toronto | Post-secondary partner: Ryerson University  | Community partner: Ontario Business Improvement Area Association 

Pop-up shops temporary stores that “pop up” for a few days or months offer opportunities to support neighbourhood revitalization. They are increasingly popular owing in part to the fact that they are particularly well-placed to test the market and/or new products. As such, they lower risk and barriers to entrepreneurship. This proposed initiative will research and disseminate pop-up shop best practices.     

 

The jury members were Brock Carlton, Chief Executive Office Federation of Canadian Municipalities; Paul Davidson, President, Universities Canada; Diane Bérard, Columnist, Les Affaires; and Stephen Huddart, President and CEO, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

For more information, contact Laurence Miall, The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, 438-8781703 | lmiall@mcconnellfoundation.ca. 

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