The Problem Pitch Competition


The Problem Pitch Competition invites teams of up to four students to choose an important industry problem, and thoroughly research it to understand its history, scope, and impact, before pitching the findings to a panel of judges on February 15, to compete for a share of up to $15,000 in grant funding.*

The winning team will demonstrate the best understanding of an important problem and will win $5,000 to be used to fund R&D for a venture that solves the problem identified. The 2nd place team will win $2,500, and the audience will decide which team wins the 3rd place People’s Choice Award! Both the 1st and 2nd place teams will be under consideration to double their prize winnings post-event if they are able to demonstrate financial need and progress over time, in consultation with the Problem Lab.

Read more about the winter 2018 Problem Pitch Competition winner!

First-year students living in the residence can also apply to the First-Year Problem Pitch Competition run by UW Housing, focusing on a recreational problem. Students can compete in both competitions.

Pitches are not to exceed five minutes and must clearly answer the Problem Pitch Questions, with research and sources cited:


  • Why is the problem important?
  • What exactly is the problem?

Consult media articles, industry research, and people within your own network to help uncover what important problems exist.


  • What is the context of the exactly defined problem?
  • What is the history of the problem?
  • Who is mistaken about what, and why?

Consult academic research, government sources, industry research, textbooks, and media articles to gain greater insight into your specific problem.


  • Who exactly is the problem important to?
  • How important is the problem to those affected?
  • How many customers is the problem important to?

You may wish to consult market research and media articles to acquire this information about your specific problem.


  • More details on these questions can be found here.
  • If you have any questions, please e-mail Ben Graham:

Important Dates:

  • Applications Open: January 2
  • Application Deadline: January 21
  • Research Workshop:** January 23 (10AM – 12PM) @ Velocity Start
  • Problem Brief Workshop:** January 24 (10AM – 12PM) @ Velocity Start
  • Problem Brief Submission Deadline: January 31
  • Problem Pitch Finalists Notified: February 6
  • Practice Pitching Session: February 9 (10AM – 12PM) @ Velocity Start
  • Problem Pitch Competition: February 15 (7 – 10pm)

** Optional but strongly recommended.




This competition is open to teams of 1 to 4 people. We encourage your team to bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and areas of study. The team member pitching at the Problem Pitch Competition must be a current full-time, or part-time University of Waterloo student (undergraduate or graduate), and is encouraged to attend prep sessions prior to the competition.

*Funding won at the Problem Pitch Competition is to be used for R&D to develop a solution to the problem and must be used within 1 year of receiving the funding. It will be administered by reimbursing approved expenses – receipts and documentation must be provided for reimbursement. Competition organizers will determine if an expense is eligible or not. First and second place Problem Pitch winners may be eligible for additional funding, up to the amount of the initial funding, based on their R&D progress. The Problem Pitch Competition is a collaboration between Velocity and the Problem Lab.