Public health organizations continually seek to improve the methods by which public health is assessed. Wearable devices, mobile applications, and smart home devices are just a few examples of new trends and technologies that generate a broad array of novel data streams. And the identification and analysis of certain data streams can yield more diverse public health information than currently available. MaRS is a non-profit innovation hub that supports startups and scaleups in sectors like health, fintech, and cleantech. They sponsored the Healthy Behaviour Data Challenge to initiate work in this area by asking for new approaches to measure physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep, using non-traditional data sources.
MaRS used HeroX’s platform tools and templates to design and build the Healthy Behaviour Data Challenge as a classic, two-phase, ideation and implementation challenge. In Phase 1, participants proposed new sources of data for tracking physical health and activity, and submitted their ideas for ways to measure and analyze these sources. The authors of the top nine submissions each won $10,000 to develop and implement their proposed approaches. Phase 2 participants then had roughly three months to develop their ideas, collect data, and demonstrate success. Because the prize purse was provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, participants in the challenge were required to be residents of Canada. The top three Phase 2 participants were each awarded $25,000 for their diverse approaches in their solutions.
The Healthy Behaviour Data Challenge received nearly 30 submissions from all across Canada, and it awarded a total prize purse of $165,000 CAD. It was the first challenge put on by MaRS, and its success has encouraged the innovation hub to run many more. Prior to this challenge, MaRS had been well-known within Ontario, but less so in other Canadian regions. The challenge showed how crowdsourcing could help MaRS achieve multiple goals at once, including bringing in specific solutions to diverse problems; building awareness of the innovation hub and its work across Canada; and keeping the Canadian tech ecosystem healthy and robust.
Grand Prize Winners