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Civic Innovation Awards

Winning Projects Showcase the High

Potential of City-Post-secondary

Collaborations

Through the inaugural Civic Innovation Awards program, seven projects from across Canada have been awarded grants of $10K to $30K to showcase innovative collaborations between cities and post-secondary institutions. The awards program, launched last fall as part of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation's RECODE and Cities for People initiatives, attracted 150 applicants.

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.”

Read the full press release.

Read on to learn more about the seven winning projects.

Winning Projects

Grand Prize Winner ($30K)

Northern Innovation Hub | Iqaluit, 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.
Post-secondary partner: Enactus at University of Ottawa
Community partners: SeaCans Development ltd., Kakivak Association, Carrefour Nunavut, Inspire Nunavut

Second Prize Winners ($20K)

Local Economic Development Lab | Vancouver, British Columbia

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.
Post-secondary partner: Simon Fraser University (RADIUS)
Community partner: Ecotrust

MR-63 | Montreal, Quebec

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.
Post-secondary partners: HEC Montréal (University of Montreal), Morin Bordeleau brothers, Rayside Labossiere Architect
Community partner: Quartier de l'innovation

Vivacity | Calgary, Alberta

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.
Post-secondary partner: Mount Royal University
Community partner: Calgary Economic Development (CED)

Third Prize Winners ($10K)

Civic Accelerator | Guelph, Ontario

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.
Post-secondary partner: University of Guelph
Community partners: City of Guelph, Guelph Lab

Community BUILD | York Region, Ontario

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.
Post-secondary partners: York University & Seneca College
Community partners: ventureLAB and United Way Toronto

Building a Virtual Knowledge Commons for Pop-up Shops | Toronto, Ontario

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.
Post-secondary partner: Ryerson University
Community partner: Ontario Business Improvement Area Association