FIND A LOCATION

  • NORTH FORGE SMARTPARK

    WINNIPEG

    CEO: Joelle Foster

    441 – 100 Innovation Drive
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 6G2• P: 204-262-6400

  • North Forge | East

    PINAWA

    President: Shane Li

    24 Aberdeen Avenue
    Pinawa, Manitoba R0E 1L0 • P: 204-753-5170

  • Fabrication Lab

    WINNIPEG

    Vice-President: Marney Stapley

    125 Adelaide Street
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3A 0W4 • P: 204-799-2033

  • North Forge | North

    THE PAS

    University College of the North
    436-7th Street East, The Pas, Manitoba R9A 1M7
    (204) 623-0311

SEE ALL

Seeds planted in rural areas helping Innovation Challenge grow

Stephen Ross registered for the Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge the moment it hit his inbox.

As Superintendent of Schools & CEO of Western School Division, and as Chair of Manitoba Education Research and Learning Information Networks, participating in an initiative to improve literacy and numeracy skills for Manitoba’s children is a natural fit. But he says his role as a Manitoban is what motivated him the most.

“One of the greatest things about being Manitoban is when you get to see people from all walks of life come together to solve a problem,” says Ross. “You can’t expect things to change if you simply try harder doing the same thing and diversity is crucial to developing innovative ideas.”

The Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge was launched earlier this year by North Forge Technology Exchange to harness community input to address prominent social issues. As its first initiative, North Forge is challenging participants to target our province’s low ranking in childhood literacy and numeracy skills.

The ranking comes from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD), which places Manitoba youth 8th and 9th out of all ten provinces when measuring literacy and numeracy skills. Provincial research also shows that this gap begins at a very early age, with data showing in some Manitoba communities up to 77% of kindergarteners are not ready for grade 1 literacy and numeracy curricula.

The Challenge website, wearethesolution.ca, offers extensive information to help guide those wishing to take part, and Ross also attended an ideation session facilitated by inVision Edge on December 1st designed to generate discussion and creative ideas on the topic.

“To be honest, when I heard about the session I expected to hear a lot of stand pat ideas and stick-in-the-mud type thinking, but that’s not what I experienced at all,” says Ross. “What we were lead through was a very energetic and creative process that generated some really innovative solutions and outside the box thinking.”

One aspect Ross did feel was missing was a strong presence from the rural community, where he says there are even greater challenges when it comes to achieving desired targets for childhood literacy and numeracy skills.

“When you think about how hard it is to offer programs and find the parents that need help in an urban environment, just think how much harder that is outside the big circle of Winnipeg,” says Ross. “In rural settings it can be very difficult to develop effective programs to combat these trends as we’re often dealing with added transportation and poverty obstacles that make supporting rural families even more challenging.”

To make sure rural constituents had an opportunity to inject their ideas into tackling this issue, Ross approached North Forge to schedule a separate ideation session later this month, where community leaders from Morden, Portage la Prairie, Altona, etc. could offer their insight.

Ross believes one of the most important additions to this particular session will be the inclusion of rural high school students, which he feels will result in even more creative solutions.

“These kids are leaders in their respective schools… they’re working within the systems we’re looking to improve so their input is critical,” says Ross. “Plus change takes time, so it could very well be these kids who will be running with these ideas in the long term.”

For those looking to take part in this first ever Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge, wearethesolution.ca offers some suggestions on where to start:

  • Interactive solutions with parents/children that families can get excited about
  • Access to personalized services with at-home solutions or through publicly available resources (e.g. libraries, community resource centres, early learning and child care programs, and public health organizations)
  • The use of technology and social media to encourage participation and engagement with all Manitobans
  • Children with additional support needs/learning challenges, Indigenous children, newcomer children, and those living in rural, norther and remote communities including First Nations
  • Ideas that are play-based

For Ross, he believes the solutions for these types of social issues are almost always environmental, but not in the way most people think.

“You really have to understand a child’s environment to solve a problem for that child,” says Ross. “The gap we’re seeing in literacy and numeracy is at a very young age. Children that young are only exposed to what we expose them to so understanding the environment in which they live and dealing with the issue at that level is very important.”

Submissions for the challenge can be made online and ideas should be developed with the following parameters in mind:

  • Have a budget of $150,000 or less to implement on a small scale
  • Can be implemented immediately and get results quickly
  • Doesn’t require significant number of staff to implement
  • Are scalable across the province
North Forge Mentorship Network

Fueling innovation through mentorship

READ MORE
Audrey Beaudry's Sew Perks Sewing Machine Extension Table

Quilting confidence into entrepreneurship

READ MORE
North Forge Metal Lathe Winnipeg Manitoba

Shaping your future with the FabLab™ Metal Lathe

READ MORE

Supporters

North Forge Technology Exchange partners with PCL Construction Inc.

PCL Construction Inc.

From small renovations to complex billion dollar projects; from modular construction, to advanced digital technologies, to cutting-edge sustainability, PCL has you covered.

LEARN MORE
North Forge has partnered with 6P Marketing

6P Marketing

6P Marketing is your collaborative marketing agency, working with you to achieve your goals.

LEARN MORE

Bell MTS

Bell MTS is part of Canada’s largest telecommunications company, providing Manitobans with Mobile phone, TV, high speed Internet, and Home phone service.

LEARN MORE

Thompson Dorfman Sweatman

At Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP (TDS), we are devoted to serving our valued clients. Our collegial workplace fosters greater teamwork, responsiveness and communication, providing better results for clients. TDS is Manitoba’s largest independent law firm.

LEARN MORE

Wawanesa

Wawanesa works exclusively with insurance brokers across Canada, offering home, auto, farm and commercial business products.

LEARN MORE

Bit Space Development

Bit Space Development Ltd. is an interactive digital media studio that specializes in creating innovative learning experiences for the classroom and workplace. We work with educators and industry professionals from around the world to develop effective solutions for education and training using cutting edge digital media technologies.

LEARN MORE

Princess Auto

For more than 85 years, Princess Auto has been supplying trade professionals, home mechanics or people who simply love building things with the tools and equipment they need to figure it out – whatever that “it” may be. With a unique assortment of tools, equipment and products, ranging from hydraulics to welding, Princess Auto complements the home improvement sector rather than competing with it.

LEARN MORE
Bockstael logo

Bockstael

For over 100 years the Bockstael name has been synonymous with construction in Manitoba. From the humble beginnings of a Belgian carpenter, to the fourth generation of family ownership, building is in our blood. We pride ourselves on world-class innovation and a client-first approach to doing business. This is our commitment to serving the province we choose to call home for the next 100 years — and beyond.

LEARN MORE

Stu Clark Centre for Entreprenuership

The Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship (SCCE) is here to support entrepreneurial activities across the entire University of Manitoba campus. In addition to supporting students at the I.H. Asper School of Business we also support students from ALL faculties across the University of Manitoba – Fort Garry and Bannatyne Campus including: Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Education and more!

LEARN MORE

SevenOaks School Division

LEARN MORE

Maples Met School

LEARN MORE
Pinawa logo

LGD Pinawa

LEARN MORE
CNL logo

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

LEARN MORE

Canadian National Energy Alliance

LEARN MORE
North-Forge-Logo

North Forge Technology Exchange

LEARN MORE

SEED - Altona

LEARN MORE

Portage Regional Economic Development

LEARN MORE

Morden & District Chamber of Commerce

LEARN MORE

Morden Community Development Corp

LEARN MORE

Community Futures Heartland

LEARN MORE

Carman

LEARN MORE

Access Credit Union

LEARN MORE
North-Forge-Logo

North Forge East

LEARN MORE

Community Futures Winnipeg Rivers

LEARN MORE

Barkman Concrete Ltd.

LEARN MORE

Pinawa Community Development Corporation

LEARN MORE

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

LEARN MORE

Canadian National Energy Alliance

LEARN MORE

Western Economic Diversification Canada

LEARN MORE

Government of Canada

LEARN MORE

City of Winnipeg

LEARN MORE

University of Manitoba

LEARN MORE

Fabbaloo

LEARN MORE

Red River College

LEARN MORE

Manitoba Government

LEARN MORE

les.net

LEARN MORE