Problem Pitch Photo

Finalists to identify important industry problems at the Problem Pitch Competition

University of Waterloo students and alumni continue to demonstrate that successful ventures are created by people who have a deep understanding of the problem they are solving. Which is why Velocity and the Problem Lab have partnered to host the Problem Pitch Competition, where student teams identify an important industry problem, thoroughly research it, and share their knowledge via a pitch format, to compete for funding.

Competitors were asked to specify a problem, and explore its context, including researching its history, the problem’s stakeholders, how many people it affects, and how strongly. Ten finalists will make 5-minute problem pitches on October 17 to an audience of peers and a panel of judges, for a chance to win a share of $7,500 in grants to fund R&D to develop a solution to the problem.

At the past spring 2017 competition, Intelline won first place, identifying the problem that current cryocooling methods (cooling to cryogenic temperatures -150°C and below) are too expensive. Their research found that the current cost of cryocooling limited the economic feasibility of many revolutionary technologies like quantum computing, superconducting power lines, and cryoelectronics. Since then, Co-founders, Kyle Faller , Chris Matthew, and Ankil Patel have been working to develop the next generation of cryocooling out of the Velocity Science lab on campus. 

“The process of the Problem Pitch Competition encouraged us to explore the cryocooling problem from many angles, and ultimately find the core focus on which to develop our solution. With winnings from the pitch event, we were able to greatly advance our research into cost effective cryocooling machines. We have designed and built our first functional cryocooler, and are in development of a new modular prototype. The ongoing support from Ben and Larry [from the Problem Lab] has also been extremely beneficial in developing our strategy for revolutionizing the cryocooling industry.”
– Kyle Faller, Co-founder, Intelline

This term, from the problems of illicit activities on the dark web, to the lack of diversity in tech, to microfiber pollution in water, the finalist teams exploring problems that need solutions are:

Increased sleep deprivation is negatively affecting health, decreasing productivity and creating dangerous work situations.

Dark Side
There is no effective way of monitoring the dark web that is increasingly being used for illegal activities.

The complexity and negative perceptions of Blockchain technology limit its adoption and uses.

Microfibers from synthetic materials in the textile industry are increasingly deposited in water supplies and food sources.

Companies are collecting more personal data while individuals have little or no control over their own data, how it is used, its integrity, or its security.

Fluids transported in pipelines can freeze in cold climates, causing damage, lost product and company downtime in the mining industry.

Smart devices in the Internet of Things do not employ adequate security.

The Health Aisle
The increasing and overwhelming number of over-the-counter drugs prevents healthcare professionals from staying up-to-date, and places consumers at risk without accessibility to accurate information.

Negative communities and disorganized play disrupt the important teamwork component of eSports games and lead players to quit using games.

There are no road-side tests that provide an accurate, real-time analysis for THC.

The Fall 2017 Problem Pitch Competition will take place in the Quantum-Nano Centre (QNC 0101) on campus at the University of Waterloo from 7-10pm on Tuesday, October 17. Attendees from the University of Waterloo and the broader community are all welcome to watch the pitches.