Support Line Added For Home Stretch Of Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge

With over a month to go in the very first Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge, challenge organizers have added even more resources to help everyday Manitobans elevate childhood literacy and numeracy in our province.

“Coming up with innovative ideas can be hard to do in isolation so we wanted to make sure that isn’t a barrier,” said Jeff Ryzner, President of North Forge Technology Exchange and one of several professionals who are now available to work one-on-one with community members developing submissions. “We know from experience that the best solutions come from people working together, and we’re happy to offer whatever expertise we can to bring community-driven ideas to life in support of such an important cause.”

The cause Ryzner refers to is a strikingly low ranking 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 Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge was created to mobilize all of our province’s minds to generate new and innovative solutions for this complex problem. And now with an army of innovation experts available for individual consultations, taking an idea from glimmer to concept has never been easier.

Along with Ryzner, Al McLeod, VP of Innovation with Wawanesa Insurance, is another industry partner working to mentor challenge participants and is quite excited by what he’s seen so far.

“Child literacy and numeracy is an issue for us in Manitoba so it’s been incredible to see people from all walks of life engaging to solve the problem,” said McLeod. “This is a rare opportunity where we have the ability to work together to help children across the province in a way that will impact their entire lives. It’s a privilege to be part of it and I look forward to helping as many people as I can get their ideas down on paper.”

Suzanne Braun, Founder and Managing Director of Relish New Brand Experience, is another member of the challenge mentorship team and encourages participants not to overthink their initial submissions.

“Some of the people we talk to have the misconception that ideas need to come in the form of twenty page proposals and that’s just not the case,” said Braun. “The bottom line is we’re looking for great ideas, whatever form they come in. So if someone has an idea on how to improve literacy and numeracy for Manitoba children don’t hold back, check out the website and tell us about it.”

The deadline for the Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge is February 22, 2018. Submissions or requests for guidance can be made online at