The Studio

The Studio is hosted by Innovation North and Powered by Ivey & Walmart Canada.


In Winter 2024, Innovation North’s Studio will bring together students from business schools within Ontario to challenge conventional problem-solving methodologies.

Students will be introduced to systems thinking – a non-linear approach to solving the complex problems that businesses are facing today.  

Systems thinking is a powerful approach to innovation. It can help identify underlying events, patterns, structures, and mindsets that give rise to complex problems. Systems Thinking can help enrich decision-making and encourage collaboration and communication between different stakeholders. It requires taking a long-term and large-scale view to decide what actions need to happen now to create desirable futures.

The Studio isn’t another case competition, challenge, or hackathon – it’s a highly collaborative, creative, and playful space that will develop novel, actionable ideas that help solve real problems.

Through the Studio, students will learn about systems thinking and apply the Compass to innovate around challenges in retail that a renowned Canadian corporation is facing.

The Studio builds on the work of Innovation North’s Lab which has brought together Canada’s leading corporations (which we call Practice Partners) and researchers from Ivey Business School. Together, we have created the Compass, a tool that applies systems thinking to the innovation process.

What To Expect

The first offering of the Studio will take place in Winter 2024 and is open to teams of 3-5 students enrolled in an undergraduate or Master’s program at a business school within Ontario. (In future offerings, we hope to slowly open the Studio to students in all disciplines and even managers globally.)

In Stage 1, students will be introduced to a complex, systems-level problem and discover how you might approach solving in through a series of three weekly workshops.

Following a set of virtual workshops, all participants will be invited to Ivey for an in-person studio session, including a showcase of current ideas on approaching the challenge. Mentors, faculty, and other students in the Studio will provide feedback before submitting a video deliverable the following week.

In Stage 2, select teams will have the opportunity to deepen their thinking on another challenge and interact directly with leaders at Walmart Canada.

Finalists be identified among teams with the most feasible, scalable, or creative solutions. Cash prizes and additional opportunities to partner with Innovation North will be awarded to the finalists.

Key Dates

Stage 1

Saturday, January 27: Studio Kick-Off (Virtual)
TBD: Workshop 1 – Thinking & Acting in Systems (Virtual)
TBD: Workshop 2 – Methods & Tools (Virtual)
TBD: Workshop 3 – Successes & Failures (Virtual)
Saturday, February 10: Stage 1 Showcase (In-Person at Ivey)
Friday, February 16: Stage 1 Video Submission Due

Stage 2

TBD: Stage 2 Kick-Off (Virtual)
Monday, February 26 – 1st Meeting with Walmart Canada
Wednesday, February 28 – 2nd Meeting with Walmart Canada
Friday, March 1 – 3rd Meeting with Walmart Canada

Register your team by January 15: