Bicentennial Student Sustainability Challenge



Launched in August 2020, the Bicentennial Student Sustainability Challenge, impact200, aims to bring students and recent graduates together to form teams and submit proposals for transformative projects (Bright Spots) to enhance the sustainability of our campuses, our city, and the world.

impact200 Finalist Teams

The ten finalist teams have been selected in the impact200 Bicentennial student sustainability challenge.

From the 44 initial proposals entered last year, 22 semi-finalists were selected in January. In March, teams pitched their ideas via video conference to a judging panel consisting of four of McGill’s emeriti professors. In addition to their presentations, each team submitted a written proposal, a 60-second video pitch, and a digital poster.

Each of the finalist teams received up to $5,000 and support from expert mentors to develop their projects over the summer, which address one or more of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The teams pitched their final proofs-of-concept to a panel of judges on November 9th and 10th. 

Winners were announced on December 2nd at the impact200 Awards Ceremony. Watch here. 

200 Urban Garden

Did you know that Montreal currently provides only 35% of the WHO’s recommended greenspace per person? 200 Urban Garden aims to do something about that: The team’s goal is to establish 200 new gardens in Montreal by turning underutilized pockets of land into lively green spaces with themed gardens to match the spirit of the local community. Read more.



Algal blooms are overgrowths of algae that can reduce oxygen levels in bodies of water, block sunlight from aquatic plants, and release toxins into their environment. Algo aims to remove algal blooms by collecting the excess algae and converting it into biomass. Once recovered, this biomass can be used as a sustainable source of energy such as biofuel or biogas, or it can be used as fertilizer. Read more.



This team is developing a mobile solar refrigerator to provide better access to sustainable cooling in mobile clinics globally. The prototype will be implemented in Burkina Faso to serve internally displaced communities, especially women and children, in collaboration with local partners.


McGill Engineers in Action

For people around the world, a river can mean the difference between receiving an education, getting medical attention, and selling goods – or not. Every year, this team will design a footbridge for rural communities in Bolivia or Eswatini to help connect them to essential resources such as schools, markets and clinics. Then, every summer, a team of students will live and work alongside the community to construct the footbridge.


McGill Food Analytics Centre

There are over 150 food-based organizations in Montreal, and over 10,000 volunteers. But there is a supply and demand mismatch for the volunteers in the system. The McGill Food Analytics Centre has created a scheduling application designed specifically for volunteers at food-based organizations.


McGill Mycelium Project

The McGill Mycelium Project strives to combat food insecurity and up-cycle cardboard waste through urban mushroom farming. Our farm, located on McGill University’s downtown campus, grows nutritious, food-grade oyster mushrooms with McGill’s cardboard waste and provides these mushrooms to a local food drive organization, Santropol Roulant. By selling a small portion of these oyster mushrooms to the McGill’s cafeterias, the farm will be financially self-sufficient. We believe this model of urban farming can be implemented in all urban settings, promoting local circular economies around the globe. Read more.



Are you looking for ways to better cope with stress and anxiety in this time of uncertainty? Learn how to improve your emotional intelligence with this team’s gamified, scientifically backed EdTech tool. The platform helps you gain actionable insights in self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation, social skills, and motivation using the latest research in behavioural science.



Food bank demand surged after the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. But small food donors and food banks don’t have efficient logistics to coordinate their efforts. Food Map aims to bridge this gap. The information-sharing platform connects small food banks, food donors and people in need, with real-time geographical information on the availability, perishability, type, and quantity of donated food in the city. Read more. 



Have you ever thought about how easy it is to access clean water with the turn of a faucet? 29% of the world’s population still lacks this basic service. In many communities, women and children make long journeys to bring home small amounts of dirty water, contributing to 485,000 diarrheal deaths yearly. The Solar-A team aims to tackle this problem with a backpack capable of purifying contaminated water using solar and biomechanical energy. Read more.



The unEarth platform will teach youth how processes within environmental systems are linked. For example, youngsters can explore how coral reef fisheries in the Caribbean can cause phase shifts to algae-dominated states when overexploited. The interactive platform, enriched with current scientific literature and animations, and will be available in English, French and Spanish. Read more.



The challenge, impact200, is organized by the Bicentennial Office, in collaboration with the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, the McGill Office of Sustainability (MOOS), the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (MSSI), a Student Advisory Group, and representatives of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Teams competing in the final round of impact200 received financial support from the University’s flagship Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF), in hopes of promoting equity, accessibility, and interdisciplinarity throughout the Challenge. This support minimized the financial barriers that may have hindered students and young alumni from participating.

The SPF is the largest fund of its kind in Canada, valued at $1 million annually, and has the mandate to build a culture of sustainability on McGill campuses through the development and seed-funding of interdisciplinary projects. It creates opportunities for the McGill community to actively engage in sustainability initiatives on campus. Since 2010, the SPF has allocated more than $10.2 million to over 275 sustainability projects on McGill’s campuses.

The impact200 initiative would also not have been possible without the generous financial support of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Arts.