After the Ottawa River in 2015 and the St. Lawrence River in 2016, this year, the focus of this event created by the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation is Lake Erie.

For the third annual AquaHacking challenge, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation is joining forces with the Water Institute at the University of Waterloo, with whom it has signed a three-year partnership combining water research and technology. The AquaHacking Challenge is based on the premise of hackathons, where new technologies are developed to help resolve a problem in society. This year’s event will take place in Waterloo, Ontario over five months. Students in the water field, hackers, engineers and entrepreneurs from across Canada will be called on to develop technological innovations designed to tackle issues in Lake Erie. “We chose to focus on Lake Erie because it was selected as a priority by the Canada Ontario Great Lakes Agreement,” explained Sandro Di Cori, director of operations for the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation. “It has the biggest problem with phosphorus runoff; one of the challenges for this year will be to create apps to reduce the spread.”

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For the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation, the health of the lake and its watershed is essential to the region’s economy, communities and natural environments. “AquaHacking is a multi-generational, multi-sector and multi-stakeholder movement that aims to conserve the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence, and to foster the quality and responsible use of these waters,” said Claude Perras, executive director of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation.

A panel of expert judges will select the winners of the 2017 AquaHacking Challenge in September as part of an international conference taking place in the Waterloo region. Five winning teams will share $75,000 and earn spots at local incubators and accelerators to further develop their solutions. The first info session will be held on March 29 and will give participants an opportunity to start forming teams. The hackers will have until June 14 to submit a description of their project to tackle the Lake Erie issues.

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