The Knowledge to Act


Everyday Manitobans set to improve the health of Lake Winnipeg with innovative tech solutions

Share This

Students, developers, designers, scientists, programmers, engineers, technology enthusiasts and entrepreneurs are set to show Manitoba what they're made of by improving the health of one of Canada's most beloved lakes with the 2020 Lake Winnipeg AquaHacking Challenge.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)—an independent think tank home to world-class freshwater experts headquartered in Winnipeg—has just announced the challenge at the two-day DisruptED conference at the RBC Convention Centre from January 30-31.

Between January and October 2020, AquaHacking will challenge students and young professionals to team up and develop innovative solutions to problems plaguing the Lake Winnipeg watershed.

The five issues they’ll be focusing on, just announced at the conference, are:

  • managing water on farms;
  • keeping fish healthy;
  • keeping plastics out of our water;
  • ensuring access to clean drinking water; and
  • financing a healthy Lake Winnipeg.

“Our beloved Lake Winnipeg often hits the headlines for the wrong reasons, but AquaHacking is asking students and young professionals to look at the issue in a completely different way,” said Jane McDonald, managing director, International Institute for Sustainable Development.

“With guidance and support from mentors in water, tech, and business, the multidisciplinary teams will be collaborating with the tech sector to come up with solutions that haven’t been tried before to address environmental problems. Not to mention there’s $50,000 in cash prizes (including a $20,000 first prize) and incubator space up for grabs!”

“We fully support IISD and believe in the innovative talent on the Prairies to make AquaHacking a success for Lake Winnipeg,” said Dominique Monchamp, interim CEO, AquaHacking,

Throughout the challenge, teams will have access to a variety of workshops and resources, as well as a dedicated group of mentors to help them develop their solutions and refine their pitches. The top five teams will be determined at the AquaHacking Lake Winnipeg semi-final in June 2020, after which they will continue working on their solutions and go on a team-building expedition to IISD Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario.

The winning team will then be determined at a Dragon’s Den-style final in October 2020 in Winnipeg.

AquaHacking is an initiative of Aqua Forum that was founded by the de Gaspe Beaubien Foundation in 2015 to support technology and business development addressing environmental problems related to fresh water. This year, IISD is partnering with Aqua Forum to deliver the AquaHacking Challenge Lake Winnipeg in the Prairies. After five successful years in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin, AquaHacking is going national in 2020 with three regional competitions across Canada. In addition to IISD’s competition in the Prairies, there are also AquaHacking Challenges happening in B.C., hosted by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, and Atlantic Canada, hosted by the Atlantic Water Network.

Through research, analysis and knowledge products, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, headquartered in Winnipeg, identifies and champions sustainable solutions that support sound policymaking. Our work affects economies, communities, ecosystems and lives in nearly 100 countries. We have 120 full time staff, plus over 150 associates and consultants working around the world and across many disciplines. We are chemists and biologists, economists and engineers, editors and reporters. Part scientist, part strategist—IISD delivers the knowledge to act.

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank that delivers the knowledge to act. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability. Our big-picture view allows us to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic and social rules, a changing climate. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa and Toronto, our work impacts lives in nearly 100 countries.

For more information, please contact: or +1 (613) 238 2296 ext. 114