Back home

The Five Phases of Impact Canada Challenges

This section of the document provides more detailed and descriptive information about how challenges are generally developed and implemented in a government context using the Impact Canada model.

In looking across a range of challenge methods (e.g. challenge prize, grand challenge or competitive accelerator), the Impact Canada Centre of Expertise has categorized key process steps and milestones that are common features of these methods. In general, challenges developed and delivered under Impact Canada tend to follow five key phases. These phases may be highly customized depending on particular contexts.

Phase 1: Understand

The goal of this phase is to understand, identify and define the specific problem that the challenge will seek to address.

Learn More

Phase 2: Design

This phase focuses on setting the design parameters that will support the most effective delivery of a challenge.

Learn More

Phase 3: Test

The objective of the Test phase is to validate the challenge design elements developed during the Design phase in order to arrive at a challenge design that is likely to deliver on the objectives.

Learn More

Phase 4: Implement

Once the challenge has been designed and tested, challenge practitioners move to the Implement phase, where the challenge is launched, participants are provided with support, applications are submitted and assessed by the jury, and the semi-finalists, finalists and winner(s) are selected.

Learn More

Phase 5: Evaluate & Scale

Impact Canada seeks to understand the impact of challenges at two levels:

  1. Do the solutions produced by challenges improve socioeconomic and/or environmental outcomes in attributable ways?
  2. How does the challenge approach itself add value as a public sector instrument, as compared to traditional ways of doing business?
Learn More

A Note on Challenge Timelines

Developing and delivering challenges is a complex, highly intensive, and highly rewarding experience. The Impact Canada Centre of Expertise provides advice on timelines and resourcing requirements for federal organizations interested in developing and delivering a challenge. To better understand these complexities, each phase outlined below provides an estimated time for completion, based on past experiences. However, as the process and approach taken for every challenge is different, specific contexts and/or objectives will affect the timing. For example, a challenge designed to address a problem in the context of an emergency situation with a clearly identified problem and highly motivated actors could move very quickly.

These phases are not “watertight”, there is often a certain back-and-forth that occurs throughout the development of a challenge. They do not typically proceed in a linear way.