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There are five stages to the Women In Cleantech Challenge, starting with a national recruitment campaign and concluding three years later with the selection of a final $1-million winner.

Here’s how the Challenge will unfold:

1. Recruitment

Following the launch of a Canada-wide recruitment campaign, applications will be accepted from May 10, 2018 to July 13, 2018 at midnight (EST), at which time the application window will formally close.

2. First-Stage Screening

An evaluation committee, assisted by technical advisors, will review all applications received and choose a minimum of 25 applicants who will move on to a more in-depth second-stage review. These applicants will be contacted in late July.

3. Second-Stage Screening

During this stage, the short-listed applicants will go through a more thorough screening process, including an interview (in person or via video conference) with members of our review committee. The committee will seek answers to three key questions:

  • Does the proposed technology/project have potential for major impact?
  • Is the applicant capable of fulfilling the requirements of the Challenge, including an at times grueling work and travel schedule?
  • Can the applicant’s technology/project be sufficiently matched with federal lab resources?

The review committee will use information collected during this second-stage screening to select 10 applicants that will compete for a spot in the final six (6) cohort. These 10 applicants will be notified in late August.

4. Cohort Selection

The remaining 10 applicants will attend a public pitch event on September 18 at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. A jury of six judges will score each pitch according to a pre-determined scoring methodology. The six applicants with the highest scores will be announced as the final Challenge Cohort.

5. Graduation/Selection of Winner

In Fall 2021, MaRS will hold a graduation ceremony for the six cohort participants. MaRS will also award a $1-million prize to the entrepreneur that has advanced the most during the Challenge and is judged most likely to commercially succeed, as determined by our expert jury.

MAY 10 Launch Date: Begin accepting applications online; JUL 13 Application Window Closed: Start of Stage 1 screen; late-JUL Deep Dive: Start of Stage 2 screen; late-AUG Finalists Selected: 10 to present in pitch competition; SEP 18 Pitch Event: Jury selects cohort of siz for Challenge; 36 month program; Fall 2021 Graduation: $1M prize awarded.



As this is a nation-wide competition, we expect to receive many applications. To choose the final cohort of six competitors, we will evaluate applications in three stages:

Stage 1 – A review committee will review the eligibility and quality of all applications. A minimum of 25 will be selected to advance to the second stage of evaluation.

Stage 2 – A review committee, accompanied by relevant outside experts and a representative from Canada’s federal lab system, will conduct interviews (in-person or via video conference) with each of the short-listed applicants to better understand their cleantech innovation and its potential, and to match R&D needs with federal laboratory assets. From here, 10 applicants will be selected to advance to the third stage of evaluation.

Stage 3 – The 10 remaining applicants will be invited to pitch in front of a live jury. Members of the jury will score each pitch, paying particular attention to the disruptive or visionary nature of the innovation, the probability of its commercial success, and its potential to scale globally and reduce harmful impacts on our environment/climate.

The six applicants with the highest scores will be announced as the final Women In Cleantech Challengers!


Picking the Winner

The six cohort participants will spend more than 36 months advancing their technology and building a business that can be commercially viable. They will attend workshops and events, get expert advice and guidance, be introduced to investors and potential partners/customers, and work with federal researchers (and laboratory equipment) to develop and validate their technology as they pursue the path to product commercialization. Frequent travel is expected. Note also that a significant amount of time will be spent at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and at the federal laboratory to which each participant has been matched.

In Fall 2021, MaRS will hold a graduation ceremony for the six cohort participants, who will each make a final pitch in front of the original jury, summarizing their progress.

The entrepreneur found to have made the most progress and achieved the greatest market impact will be named the winner and awarded a $1-million prize to further advance and grow her cleantech business with continued support from MaRS.