Kingston mayor turns to city's brightest young minds as part of innovation challenge

WATCH: Teams of post-secondary students pitched their concepts for the Mayor's Innovation Challenge, a competition designed to help improve the city of Kingston, Ont.

Kingston’s mayor turned to some of the city’s brightest minds on Friday to come up with innovative ideas for improving the city.

Teams of post-secondary students pitched their concepts, addressing topics that ranged from long-term care to reducing carbon emissions.

The Mayor’s Innovation Challenge is a partnership between the city and its three major post-secondary institutions: Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College and the Royal Military College.

The competition calls on students to come up with innovative proposals that address identified challenges facing the City of Kingston.

“This is really a picture of how we harness the incredible talents we have in our post-secondary institutions and how we can tap into that in our community,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson.


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Teams of three students were asked to focus on four challenges during the one-day event. Nine teams made presentations on topics such as how to leverage emerging technologies to create a smart city, engaging residents who deal with social isolation and loneliness in long-term care, revitalizing public spaces and reducing carbon emissions.

One group of Queen’s University students — Zoe Mitz, Jesse Mastrangelo and Andrew Farley — pitched and hope to develop an app specifically targeted at seniors dealing with social isolation.

“They can learn about each other, see names and faces and relate them to each other and plan activities, make new friends and connections and actually get out of their rooms and be social,” explained Mitz.

If the group were to win, these young entrepreneurs would engage the help of seniors to make the app user-friendly for its target audience.

“The reason tech, for a long time, hasn’t been the most usable for seniors is the fact that things are not made for them,” said Mastrangelo.

“The fact that we are going to start from scratch, from the ground up and bring seniors onto our team and build it with them, that’s the big differentiating factor for us.”


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Two teams will be chosen as winners of the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge. Winners of the competition will receive a paid four-month internship as well as a grant of seed capital for their ideas.

“Ultimately, how do we retain talent? We talk a lot about how do we find jobs and opportunities for young people here so this is exactly the forum where we could be creating new businesses and new startups and new ideas we can run with as a city,” said Paterson.

Based on the ideas presented, the mayor says it won’t be easy to select the winners.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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