Impact Canada
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Impact Canada

Meet the IIU’s Challenge Prize Fellow: Marie Bassey

What made you decide to apply for the Fellowship program?

I am passionate about solving societal problems and constantly searching for better ways of creating positive outcomes for the impacted groups in our society. The Fellowship program aligns greatly with these personal values and offers me the opportunity to innovate close to the center of power and create broader, impactful and lasting outcomes for Canadians.

How would you explain Challenges to someone who had never heard about it before?

Challenges are new ways of problem-solving for public issues that have no clear solutions by using financial and non-financial rewards to incentivize the generation of ingenious solutions and to foster the inclusion of non-traditional players in government policy implementations. An example is the Food Waste Challenge which seeks to create awareness around Canada’s food waste problem and to attract innovators from the general public to solve the problem by offering non-financial support and financial prizes for the best or first solution.

Why do you believe government departments should continue to explore Challenges as a way to achieve better outcomes?

With increasing pressures from the public for greater government accountability, tight budgetary environment, and technological advancements, traditional tools such as contracts and grants employed by government departments to solve difficult public problems are no longer effective given that such tools are focused on paying for efforts and not necessarily results.

It is time for government departments to adopt innovative approaches in solving Canada’s ever-evolving problems if they are to remain current and relevant for Canadians. I believe that Challenges are a great innovative tool that would not only help government departments to solve public problems more effectively but to also optimize their operational efficiencies by paying for only the desired outcomes; therefore, it is important that government departments should continue to explore Challenges as a way to achieve improved outcomes and cost efficiencies for the betterment of Canadians.

What unique perspectives do you bring to this work, as someone entering the public service for the first time?

The combination of my provincial government and private-sector business development work experience, business and science education background, coupled with an innate growth mindset affords me unique perspectives that would allow me to work and contribute effectively within the federal public service for the greater well-being of Canadians.

What is it that you — or other Canadians — would find fascinating or captivating about the Food Waste Challenge?

I am fascinated by the novelty of using an innovative tool such as the Food Waste Challenge to solve Canada’s longstanding food waste issue. Just like other Canadians, I am most excited about the outcomes which will help the Government of Canada to provide greater food security for Canadian households, and create positive economic and environmental benefits within Canada’s agro-industry.



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