How can we better connect researchers to community?

Final submissions due November 12, 2021

Student Challenge

Research Nova Scotia and VOLTA are seeking innovative ideas that provide a way to better connect researchers to community in Nova Scotia.

Download challenge information package.

The call for Expressions of Interest is now closed.

IMPORTANT: Only students who submitted an Expression of Interest and received eligibility confirmation from Research Nova Scotia may apply for this opportunity.


Nova Scotia is home to many talented researchers whose expertise spans various fields and disciplines. Currently, there is no simple method to search for researchers specializing in any given subject in the province. We want to change that.

Today, it is relatively simple to search for researchers based on their published works (i.e. Google Scholar and/or ResearchGate). However, when there is no publication, or if a paper is published by a collaborator from an out-of-province university, it becomes increasingly difficult and time consuming to identify a researcher.


Our vision is a solution that provides a way to better connect researchers to the people who want to access their findings, such as decision makers, industry professionals, or entrepreneurs, in a way that reduces the burden on institutions, and helps promote Nova Scotia research to partners and potential investors.

Research Nova Scotia is seeking an informative, easy-to-maintain solution, not a cumbersome database. If an organization, company, or government official is looking for an expert in a given field, they should be able to find one quickly. Ideally, the solution could live at, or link from,

Solutions must be:

  • Intuitive
  • Easy to maintain
  • Inclusive (i.e. not solely reliant on publications, include all university/college/health authority researchers)
  • Accessible to all
  • Focused on harvesting readily available data

We do not want solutions that:

  • Are cumbersome, expensive database solutions
  • Need to be manually populated
  • Rely on institutions or researcher updates
  • Simply repackage or rebuild existing search engine interfaces, or
  • Require a researcher agreement (i.e., no privacy issues)

Possible Inputs:

  • Nova Scotia university websites
  • NSCC website
  • University news articles
  • Media articles
  • Google Scholar
  • ResearchGate
  • Other open source API


Research teams will consist of one to four undergraduate or graduate students that will be expected to produce a written report and presentation.

To participate in the Student Research Challenge, you need to:

  • Confirm your eligibility
  • Identify a faculty advisor
  • Submit expression of interest by September 27, 2021 at 4pm


All participants must be full-time students (undergraduate or graduate), of computer science or other relevant programs, at a university in Nova Scotia or at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). Teams must also identify a faculty advisor from their institution to supervise their team throughout the duration of the challenge.

Challenge FORMAT


Once eligibility is confirmed, participants will have six weeks to develop a four-minute presentation that outlines their proposed approach and concept. Presentations must include the project approach as well as the team’s capability to develop. Relevant supporting documents may also be submitted for consideration. To ensure the selection process is feasible, the teams will be asked to record their four-minute pitch presentation and submit to Research Nova Scotia.

Feedback will be provided to all challenge participants, regardless of whether or not they advance to Stage 2.


The finalists identified from Stage 1 submissions will be given an additional two weeks to develop their pitch presentations and submit final proposals. Finalists will be invited to present for 10 minutes at Volta in Halifax (virtually or in person) in front of a panel of experts from Nova Scotia and beyond. This panel will also include representatives from Research Nova Scotia, out-of-province data science experts, and local industry representatives in accordance with the assessment criteria outlined for these awards.


Challenge winners will be selected based on the most innovative, useful, and well-designed idea.

Up to five Developmental Prizes ($500) will be awarded to top teams from Stage 1. In December, top teams will be invited to present at Volta (in person or virtually) to an audience of academic and industry professionals along with an expert panel of judges. The top two teams will receive cash prizes.

  • $5,000, Most Innovative
  • $2,500, Best Presented
  • In addition to cash prizes, finalists may also be asked to develop the engine they have conceptualized in partnership with Research Nova Scotia. All finalists and award recipients will be profiled and featured on the Research Nova Scotia and Volta websites and social channels. Award recipients may also be invited to participate in video and/or podcast recordings as well as media interviews.


    • Student Challenge Launch, September 13, 2021
    • Expression of Interest due, September 27, 2021 at 4pm
    • Eligibility confirmed, October 1, 2021
    • Participant/team questions, due October 4, 2021
    • Complete list of questions posted, October 8, 2021
    • Final Submissions, along with 4-minute pitch videos, due November 12, 2021
    • Feedback to participants, November 19, 2021
    • Developmental prizes announced, November 26, 2021
    • Finalists announced, November 26, 2021
    • Finalist Presentations at Volta, December 10, 2021 (TBC)
    • Winners Announced, December 17, 2021

    The call for Expressions of Interest is now closed.