The Studio

2024 Systems Innovation Challenge

Hosted by Innovation North. Powered by Ivey Business School & Walmart Canada.


In Winter 2024, Innovation North’s Studio will bring together university students across Ontario to challenge conventional problem-solving methodologies.

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

Systems thinking is an effective approach to innovation. It can help identify underlying events, patterns, structures, and mindsets that give rise to complex problems. 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 to help tackle complex problems.

Through the Studio, students will learn about systems thinking and apply the Compass to challenges corporate partners are facing.

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


The first offering of the Studio is a 2024 Systems Innovation Challenge open to undergraduate and Master’s students studying at any college or university in Ontario. You can register as a team of 4-5 people, or as an individual to be matched with others.

You should plan to commit up to 3 hours per week to participate in the Studio, attend all sessions listed below, and be willing to travel to London, ON for the in-person studio session on Sunday, February 11. Travel-related costs will be reimbursed by Innovation North following the session.

What To Expect

In the Nurture stage, you will be introduced to a complex, systems-level problem and discover how you might approach tackling it through a series of weekly virtual workshops.

Following the workshops, all participants will be invited to Ivey in London, Ontario, 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 the Navigate stage, select teams will have the opportunity to deepen their thinking on another challenge and interact directly with leaders of Walmart Canada.

Teams with the most feasible, scalable, or creative solutions will be awarded up to $15K in cash prizes and additional opportunities to partner with Innovation North.

2024 Key Dates

Applications – Update as of November 20:

We’ve received an overwhelming number of applications from students across Ontario, and are excited to announce that a few limited spots are available. To accommodate this, we’ve extended the application deadline to 11:59pm, December 1st, 2024. Apply as an individual or team here.

Due to the high volume of applications, our review process may take slightly longer than anticipated. We aim to update current applicants about their status within days, ensuring thoroughness and care in the review process.

Please note the new deadline if you have yet to apply or wish to submit soon. For any questions or assistance with your application, please contact Jessica Pheby at

Nurture Stage

• Friday, January 19, 3:00pm-4:00pm: Studio Orientation

• Saturday, January 27, 1:30pm-3:00pm: Studio Kick-Off

• Tuesday, January 30, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Workshop 1 – Thinking & Acting in Systems

• Tuesday, February 1, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Workshop 2 – Methods & Tools

• Tuesday, February 6, 6:00pm-7:30pm: Workshop 3 – Successes & Failures

• Sunday, February 11 (all-day): Studio Showcase
(In-Person at Ivey in London, Ontario)

Navigate Stage (open to select teams)

• Tuesday, February 27, 1:30pm-3:00pm – 1st Meeting with Walmart Canada

• Friday, March 1, 1:30pm-3:00pm – 2nd Meeting with Walmart Canada

• Tuesday, March 5, 1:30pm-3:00pm – 3rd Meeting with Walmart Canada

• Friday, March 8, 1:30pm-3:00pm – Final Presentations
(Walmart HQ in Mississauga or at Ivey in London, depending on proximity of the select teams)

All sessions will be hosted virtually by Zoom unless otherwise specified. Workshops and info sessions will not be recorded, so we strongly urge all members of your team to be present.

Team members are strongly suggested to attend the In-Person Studio Session Day at Ivey Business School to receive feedback and mentorship. Limited travel funding is available for eligible teams. Please indicate in your application whether you like to receive a travel funding application as wel