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SDG Pitch Competition

Join McMaster's second SDG Pitch Competition

Are you a student with great ideas about sustainability? Join McMaster’s SDG Pitch Competition to share your big ideas for your team to have a chance to win one of three $2,000 cash prizes! 

All students are invited to participate in McMaster’s second Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Pitch Competition on Wednesday, March 13th in CIBC Hall from 5:00 – 8:00pm. Registration for the event will open on Wednesday, March 6th at 6:30pm.

Deliver a 3-minute pitch on one of the three challenge topics:  

  1. How can we improve active and sustainable travel to and from McMaster University?
  2. How can we increase sustainable mobility in Hamilton through active transportation and engagement with local schools?
  3. How do we enhance international collaborations and global engagement in a sustainable and equitable way? 

Join an information session on March 6th from 5:30pm to 7pm in the DeGroote School Business (DSB) B105 to learn more about the competition, gain support from academic and industry experts, and learn how to deliver a great pitch. Register to let us know you’ll be attending. 

Thank you to our collaborators!

This event is funded by the Office of the Provost, the Office of Sustainability, and the Office of International Affairs, with in-kind contributions and event facilitation by the Academic Sustainability Programs Office, the Office of International Affairs, and University Advancement.

Students have the opportunity to form a team and pitch an idea to solve one of three sustainability challenges and help us achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This competition is being held during SDG Week Canada. 

  • Currently enrolled Undergraduate and Graduate students of McMaster University.
  • Students can participate and pitch their ideas as part of a team of two to six team members.

Information Session (optional):  

  • Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2024  
  • Time: 5:30-7:00pm   
  • Location: DeGroote School Business (DSB) B105
  • Ask questions to industry experts from McMaster’s Hospitality Services, Office of Sustainability, Facility Services and International Affairs; City of Hamilton’s Sustainable Mobility, Traffic Operations/Roads, and Public Health departments; and Metrolinx. You can ask questions about your challenge. 
  • Register to let us know that you’ll be joining the optional information session on March 6th to learn more about the competition and work with experts to refine your pitch. 
  • You don’t have to participate in the information session to participate in the pitch competition.  

Pitch Competition 

  • Date: Wednesday March 13, 2024
  • Time: 3:00pm – 8:00pm 
    • 3:00pm-5:00pm (optional) – Meeting rooms will be available in McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC) for groups to work on their pitch
    • 5:00pm – First round of 3-minute pitches to be given to a panel in a designated meeting room in MUSC
    • 6:15 – Pitch Competition Opening Remarks
    • 6:30pm – Top nine finalists to deliver their 3-minute pitch to an in-person audience and panel of judges in CIBC Hall
    • 7:45pm – Winners announced 
  • Location: MUSC meeting rooms and CIBC Hall  
  • Registration for the Pitch Competition opens at 6:30pm on March 6th (during the Information Session). Register early to secure your team’s spot for the Pitch Competition on March 13th. Only one team member needs to register and include names and McMaster email addresses of other team members. Seven team spots are available for each of the three challenges, so be sure to register early. 

Judges include academics, industry professionals and community leaders.

First-Round Judges

McMaster Challenge

  1. Robert Morrallee, Director of Parking Services 
  2. Dave Cano, Director of Sustainability 
  3. Anastasia Soukhov, Doctoral Researcher in Equitable and Sustainable Transport

Hamilton Challenge

  1. Daniel Chong, Project Lead at Bike for Mike Organization
  2. Mark Anderson, Co-Chair for Cycle Hamilton
  3. Charles Ballarano, Transportation Planner
  4. Alison Carlyle, Sustainable Transportation Professional

Global Challenge

  1. Katrin Kohl, Executive Coordinator, UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, York University, Toronto, Faculty of Education
  2. Tony Porter, Associate Director, Institute of Globalization & the Human Condition
  3. Karen Balcom, Associate Professor of History, Gender & Social Justice and Academic Co-Director for Teaching and Learning, Office of Community Engagement

Finalist Judges

  1. Mark Chamberlain, President and CEO PV Labs
  2. Matheus Grasselli, Deputy Provost at McMaster
  3. Charles Hopkins, Chair-holder, UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, York University, Toronto, Faculty of Education)
  4. Beatrice Ekoko, Project Manager – Office of Climate Initiatives
  • The purpose of this week is to promote awareness of the SDGs among students, faculty, and staff in higher education and inspire them to take action in furtherance of the goals on their campuses and in their local community.1 
  • At McMaster, SDG Week takes the form of a Student Pitch Competition aimed to address three challenges: one at McMaster, one in Hamilton, and one internationally.  
  • Learn more about SDG Week programming happen nationally and at McMaster. 
  • The global initiative is hosted by the University Global Coalition in partnership with State University of New York.1 Local leaders include UBC and SDSN Canada.2 

There are many different ways to pitch a great idea. You could tell a story, focus on the data, and/or provide a vision for what’s possible if your idea were to be implemented. As for delivery style, you can leverage your professionalism, your creativity, your emotional intelligence, and more.  

Here’s just one possible structure that you can consider: 

  1. Clearly present the problem, particularly the part of the problem that your idea will solve. 
  2. Introduce a compelling tagline for your idea and offer evidence suggesting it will work.
  3. Share how you (or the responsible stakeholders) would go about implementing your idea. 
  4. Consider the stakeholders (i.e., groups, departments) who need to be involved and why. 
  5. Specify the talent, treasure, and/or time required to bring your idea to life. 
  6. Highlight the potential impact and measures of success. 

Should we prepare slides?
There will be one introductory template slide for each group. Each team member can add their photo (optional), name, department, and faculty.

This introductory slide is meant to save you time introducing yourselves. The slide will be up as you begin and end your pitch, so the judges know who you are. This way, you can jump right into your pitch!

Additional slides are optional. We suggest only including slides if they are necessary and will add something meaningful to your pitch. Each team can have up to three additional slides.

How long is the pitch?
Three minutes maximum. The microphone will be turned off at the three-minute mark.  

Do all members of my team need to be present?
We recommend that only one team member present the pitch and all or most team members be in attendance for the pitch.  

Other things to consider:
Speak clearly and audibly into the microphone. Presenters will need to be intentional about their pitch delivery to ensure the judges and audience can hear and understand. 

If you have additional questions, let us know! Email or DM us @macsustain on Instagram.  

We want to hear your great ideas from students. We know you’re not consultants with all the facts and might not be experts on these topics just yet. Ultimately, we want to know that the idea addresses the stated problem, is feasible, and will have an impact. 

Judging Rubric:

Addresses the problem  Your team could be addressing the entire problem or an important part of the problem. It needs to be clear and scoped.  /10 marks 
Feasibility  Ideally, your idea/solution could be implemented within 3 years (McMaster Challenge), within 6 years (City Challenge), and within 9 years (Global Challenge).   /10 marks 
Impactful  Your idea has potential for impact related to the stated problem and scope.  /10 marks

How much time commitment would this require? 

~5 hours. This would include 2 hours to prep and 3 hours for the event day. 

Do we have to use the prize money to implement our idea? 

No, the prize money will be divided amongst your team members for you to use however you wish. There is no requirement to implement your idea, but by taking part you’ll be connected to academic and industry experts involved in each challenge area. Every big change starts with a bold idea! 

Do we have to have all the details of our idea figured out?  

No! We really just want to hear your great ideas. We also have a team of academic and industry experts available to help you access information, answer your questions, and refine your ideas. Come to the info night, come early to the pitch competition, and reach out to us if we can help!