RBC in search of the next great innovator

With the new school year underway, most post-secondary students are busy thinking about life on campus rather than life in the working world. But, with the launch of its latest Next Great Innovator competition, RBC is asking students to think beyond the classroom and reflect on the workplace experience they’ll face after graduation.

“Successful organizations understand that the workplace is part of their competitive advantage,” said Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer, RBC. “As such, it must evolve to reflect the shifting composition of the Canadian workforce and the changing nature of work itself.”

This year’s competition has a total of $45,000 in prize money and asks Canadian college and university students to suggest innovative methods or tactics to transform the workplace to match the needs of an evolving and diverse workforce.

“We value the opinions and innovative ideas generated by students through the Next Great Innovator Challenge,” said Avi Pollock, head, Applied Innovation, RBC. “We’re looking for fresh ideas that can be brought to life. Several previous submissions have been launched in the market, and we expect to see some promising concepts that will positively shape the workplace of the future.”

RBC is currently testing ideas submitted in previous years, including the winning submission from 2007, the VIBE interactive personal banking workstation. The winning team from last year’s Challenge designed a personal virtual online financial advisor to answer any financial questions a customer might have.

The RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge has established itself as the principal innovation contest open to all Canadian students. The first three years of the contest alone have attracted over 550 entries from schools across the country and $125,000 of prize money has been awarded.

Entries will be evaluated by the RBC Applied Innovation team and narrowed down to the top 15 submissions. These entries will then be reviewed by a panel of RBC executives and the top four will be chosen as finalists. The panel will also select five additional entries for the peer voting selection process. A short synopsis of each peer voting entry will be posted on www.nextgreatinnovator.com with the leading vote-getting entry chosen as the fifth finalist in January 2010.

Teams must register their intention to submit a proposal online before November 1, 2009. All completed proposals must be submitted by December 6, 2009.

The top five teams compete for monetary prizes, with $20,000 going to the winning team, $10,000 awarded to second place, and $5,000 to 3 runner-up teams. Winners also receive an all-expense paid trip to Toronto for the opportunity to meet with and present their ideas to a judging panel that includes senior RBC executives. The final evaluations and awards ceremony will take place in March 2010 in Toronto.

For more information on the Next Great Innovator Challenge, visit www.nextgreatinnovator.com.