The Breakout Project

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What would happen if you brought together Canada’s most creative minds – its top entrepreneurs, its foremost tech innovators, its politicians, students and artists – and said to them: You’ve got the skills, the passion, and the vision, why not pioneer a project that will make the world a better place?

We will all find out May 10-12, 2017, at The Breakout Project, an inspired, 48-hour event taking place at Kingston’s historic Fort Henry. Up to thirty teams from Ontario, elsewhere in Canada, and all around the globe will gather to search for the answers to the most challenging problems we face today, including food and water security, health and safety, migration and poverty. And what better way to speed up the pursuit of answers to today’s challenges than a contest?

Teams competing in The Breakout Project will create their projects from scratch at the event – bringing no complete files with them or carrying out any sort of preliminary work apart perhaps from thinking about the problem they hope to help solve. They will be expected to advance their ideas as far as possible during the 48-hour event.

But they won’t be working alone. The contest will be streamed worldwide via a proprietary platform developed specifically for The Breakout Project. Those following the action globally, as well as those witnessing the contest live locally, will have a chance to contribute their ideas and effort – and funds – via the platform to help their favourite competitors realize their projects. Well-respected speakers, experts and investors will interview the teams to showcase their efforts for the audience, in a format reminiscent of reality TV – but with brains and real goals. Whatever team has managed to accumulate the largest amount of human capital (hours worked or committed to the project at the event and on-line) and financial capital (funds collected directly or online) at the end of 48 hours will be declared the winner of The Breakout Project. The top team will be announced at the closing night concert held in Kingston’s Springer Market Square. The concert will feature top musical acts and a keynote address from a celebrity speaker. More than 10,000 people are expected to join in celebrating the end of this unique contest.

Says Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson: “We are excited to host the top innovation talent in our city and to invite them to use our community as the springboard for solving huge world challenges and to showcase their talent all the while.”

For participants, The Breakout Project will also be a great opportunity to meet, share and learn. Students will meet investors, software developers will hang out with thought leaders, and teams will connect with other teams to improve their projects’ impact.

There is no way of knowing what the participants in the Breakout Project will discover. To be sure, there will be false starts and disappointments – and probably a few breakthroughs. The Breakout Project will change the participants. They’ll carry the word about this innovative, creative city back to their labs and universities; share it with their colleagues and friends. The connections they make will outlive the 48 exhilarating, unforgettable hours of the competition – as will the social impact of the ideas they generate.

The Breakout Project is the brainchild of Innovate Kingston. A non-profit organization, Innovate Kingston was created by eight Kingston-area entrepreneurs with extensive experience in the high-tech sector, specifically to encourage the creation of rapid-growth businesses in the Kingston region. Now boasting more than 40 independent members, the organization runs local networking events, provides mentorships for aspiring entrepreneurs, connects executives with free professional training opportunities in partnership with Queen’s University, and offers startups rent-free workspace. To realize The Breakout Project, Innovate Kingston has partnered with the City of Kingston, St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Queen’s University, Kingston Accommodation Partners, Tourism Kingston, and Kingston Economic Development.

“This event is about bringing the best innovators together to collectively tackle the world’s biggest problems,” says Innovate Kingston director Grant Goodwin. “We hope to mobilize a critical mass of talented people to imagine, create and build solutions that couldn’t be achieved in isolation.”