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Phase 4: Implement

Estimated time one to six years

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.

This section sets out a series of steps and considerations that should be managed at this phase of the challenge process – for both the “prelaunch”, “launch” and “post-launch” of a challenge. Note that some of the activities under “pre-launch” (e.g., develop the application form) may have to be repeated at different stages of the challenge.

A crucial element of this phase is seeking feedback from stakeholders and experts in an iterative way to refine the design of the challenge. The challenge design should be tested with a range of stakeholders and experts including those involved in the Understand phase consultations (i.e. subject matter experts, innovators, in particular those that you anticipate would participate in a challenge, the people/groups who would benefit from solutions to the problem) and those that can or will assess proposed solutions (i.e. jurors).

Activities that can help test the validity of a challenge design may include interviews, workshops, events, or targeted online surveys. These efforts should be supported by research and data analysis conducted by the challenge team to calibrate the information and feedback being gathered from experts and stakeholders

Pre-launch Activities

Develop the application form

The application form includes key questions based on the assessment criteria and is used by the jury to determine eligibility and select semi-finalists, finalists and winner(s).

Develop the applicant guide

The applicant guide provides detailed information about the challenge process to prospective applicants. This guide typically provides background information on the challenge and its objectives, timelines, eligibility, applicant requirements, assessment criteria and judging process, terms and conditions, and privacy information.

Build internal organization capacity

Putting in place a dedicated challenge team in the implementing federal organization, including a design and implementation team, as well as support teams like technical expert advisory bodies and evaluation committees, helps build organizational capacity to ensure the viability and sustainability of the challenge over time.

Recruit and select the external jury

The engagement of an external jury (typically on a voluntary service basis) helps legitimize the challenge process. Federal partners may use different approaches and criteria for selecting jury members. In general, the jurors should be credible and well-respected members of their professional communities, who can help to lend support and bring profile to the challenge. Jurors may also be representatives with lived experiences of the problem that the challenge is trying to address. Jurors are recruited for their ability to critically and objectively assess applications. As such, they are not expected to assess or rate all criteria (e.g. criteria outside their area of expertise).

Jurors should be recruited for the duration of the challenge, including all stages. Their ways of working (how often they meet, where and when) and decision-making process (by majority, by consensus, using scoring etc.) will be documented, typically in a Terms of Reference document. While each jury develops their own processes and decision documents, Impact Canada can assist by providing templates and examples from other juries.

Jurors will also be asked sign a confidentiality agreement and disclose any conflicts of interest. Juries also typically appoint a chair, who may also be the first recruit and will help to inform other recruitment efforts. The Chair is often a high profile individual with a direct and meaningful linkage to challenge outcomes.

The jury’s main objective is to make recommendations to the ultimate decision-maker in the federal partner organization. Jurors can recommend, but only the Minister (or their delegated authority, as appropriate) can make funding decisions. In practice, a Minister (or delegated authority) could be highly deferential to the assessment of the jury.

Develop the web site

The Impact Canada platform serves as a central hub for federal partners to launch their challenges in a space that facilitates high levels of citizen engagement. Content should include the challenge statement and overview, challenge rules, processes, prizes, and assessment criteria, among other information.

The Impact Canada Centre of Expertise provides support and advice to federal partners on developing web content, which can be customized according to specific needs. While the focus is on creating engaging content, emphasis is also placed on creating a predictable user experience achieved through the use of standard website elements, content, and appearance, allowing for easy navigation across all hosted initiatives (i.e. the Impact Canada ‘look and feel’)

Create a communications and engagement plan

Communications is a core challenge design element that is used to raise awareness of the goals, progress, outputs and outcomes of the challenge as well as to reach potential participants and partners. External stakeholders and partners, including jurors, can support communication efforts. From a strategic perspective, communication and engagement can:

  • Attract participants and maintain their interest;
  • Keep stakeholders and partners informed about the purpose and progress of the challenge, helping to secure additional support and funding;
  • Help achieve certain specific outcomes, such as building market awareness or public enthusiasm for solutions; and Manage relationships with participants and partners during challenge implementation

The elements of the communications plan should consider the:

  • objectives (e.g. drive web traffic to the challenge platform, raise awareness of the problem area, obtain completed submissions from potential applicants);
  • identity and profile of the target audience(s) (e.g. potential applicants, partners, members of the public impacted by the problem area, and other stakeholders);
  • key messages;
  • communication channels (e.g. email, social media, and press releases); and
  • planned events and milestones (e.g. challenge launch event, announcements, etc).

As with the development of web content, the Impact Canada Centre of Expertise can provide support and advice to federal partners on the design of communication products to ensure a common look and feel. Impact Canada channels are also used to amplify communication efforts on social media (e.g. Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and Youtube) and via internal networks

Engage with delivery partners

Impact Canada supports the ability of federal organizations to fund expert intermediary and capacity building organizations to work with innovators in certain cases, where the benefit is accruing to the public and stakeholders as opposed to the Government of Canada directly, and the partner has the flexibility to act independently. These partners can help build the capacity of innovators and communities, as well as deliver certain components or even fully deliver challenges on the organization’s behalf. For example, Natural Resources Canada funded the Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre to provide computer simulation and scale model building and testing for semi-finalists and finalists of the Hull Design Efficiency Challenge.

Launch and Post-Launch Activities

Outreach and engagement should continue throughout the entry period, and emphasis should be placed on continuously promoting the challenge to help increase the number of applicants as well as generate enthusiasm and publicity. Posting challenges on the impact.canada. ca platform alone is not likely to be sufficient in attracting interest and applications. The following activities are therefore recommended.

Regular Communications and Public Relations Activities

The following activities should be considered as important elements in attracting the attention of the public to the problem the challenge is seeking to address as well as to bring the challenge to the attention of potential innovators that might not be typically engaged in an organization’s traditional business lines and funding programs

Public Relations

Federal partners should be prepared to respond to public inquiries and media requests; draft press releases; and work with the Centre of Expertise to profile semi-finalists, finalists and winner(s) on the impact.canada.ca platform (e.g. related to their motivations, current state of development, and intention for impact). It may also be useful to engage local governments and organizations to assist with on-theground public relations.

Impact Canada Branding and Marketing

Undertaking efforts to establish a clear and powerful brand that is consistent with the Impact Canada ‘look and feel’ helps to build recognition and credibility among participants and stakeholder communities. The Impact Canada brand is typically featured on all communications, marketing materials, and presentations.

Content Creation and Push

Social media content creation is essential to raising awareness of the challenge, attracting participants and potential partners. Keeping the Centre of Expertise informed of all social media activities ensures crosspromotion on all Impact Canada channels.

Events

Organizations should consider hosting an event (e.g. Ministerial announcement) for the launch of the challenge to attract innovators and stakeholders as well as generate publicity. Federal partners may want to engage with local governments and organizations to host or co-host events. Other events to consider hosting throughout the challenge or post-challenge include webinars, road shows, and conferences to build interest in the challenge and support the development of new communities or markets.

Applicant/Participant support

Regular communication channels with challenge participants should be provided to discuss any issues that may arise or to provide feedback that can lead to more effective solutions. Where applicable, identifying appropriate partnerships and helping to facilitate interactions with key players across the ecosystem can help improve the chances that a challenge will be successful.

Selection of Winning Innovations

Juries play a critical role in the selection of winners (at various challenge phases), as well in triggering the release of funding or other non-financial supports that make up the prize awards for a given challenge. In general, juries:

Evaluate Based on Assessment Criteria

The jury members review and evaluate the applicants based on the assessment criteria set out in the Design phase and validated during the Test phase. The jury selects challenge semi-finalists, finalists and a grand prize winner(s), depending on the structure of the challenge. Juries are often empowered to make independent assessments as well as make informed recommendations for selection to the designated decision-maker for the challenge, where applicable.

Trigger Release of Funding and Supports

Meeting pre-determined criteria at various phases of the challenge can trigger release of payments (i.e. prizes) to innovators. Access to non-financial supports aimed at building innovator capacity and improving challenge outcomes can also be unlocked at key phases (e.g. the ability to participate in labtesting sessions for new products, access for innovators to a regulatory sandbox or other test bed).

The flexibilities contained in the Impact Canada Terms and Conditions permit a variety of funding tools and supports for these purposes. Federal organizations may also find it beneficial to create specific agreement management committees and processes to manage these innovative funding approaches over the life of a challenge to enable a more coordinated approach to supporting flexibility to applicants to change course over time.

Notification and funding agreements with winner(s)

Awarding a prize to the winner(s)

Once the semi-finalists, finalists, or grand prize winner(s) are selected, applicants are notified of the results. It is recommended that applicants be notified of the results in advance of any public announcement. Unsuccessful semifinalists and finalists should receive feedback and offramping guidance. Next, the federal partner organization that is running the challenge typically enters into a funding agreement with the winner(s). This agreement sets legal and funding terms for the financial prize.

Adapted grant instrument

Where a payment is based on rewarding innovators for efforts they have achieved (e.g. for meeting the predefined criteria set out in a challenge prize), using a grant instrument in an adapted way (i.e. using to pay for results as opposed to prospective activities) is usually the most appropriate payment approach.

Outcomes-based contribution agreements

Used when federal partners want to fund prospective work, which may make use of milestone-based payments to award progress towards achieving a goal of the challenge (e.g. a challenge winner has been announced, but the full project is yet to be implemented and payments will be linked to implementation milestones based on results achieved).

Post-Notification Communications

Once the challenge semi-finalists, finalists, or grand prize winner(s) are selected, and notification and funding agreement development has taken place, it is important to communicate the results to the public (e.g. social media, Ministerial announcement, website).

Strong communication is valuable to the federal organization that is administering the challenge as it brings attention to the challenge issue and provides a ‘good news’ story for the organization. Challenge participants also benefit from publicity by raising awareness of their innovation to potential investors or partners.