Media Releases

Rotman School design competition won by OCAD U

April 1, 2011

TORONTO, ON – A team from OCAD Uni­ver­si­ty in Toron­to won the sec­ond annu­al Rot­man Design Chal­lenge, held on March 25 to 26 at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Rot­man School of Man­age­ment.

Teams from the Cal­i­for­nia Col­lege of the Arts and Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati placed sec­ond and third respec­tive­ly, with a Rot­man School team plac­ing fourth in the com­pe­ti­tion orga­nized by the Rot­man Busi­ness Design Club.

“To be suc­cess­ful, busi­ness and design both have to live in an inte­grat­ed for­mat. I think there is the per­cep­tion that OCADU is just about design that is fun and looks good. But there’s much more to it than that,” said Jes­si­ca Mills of the win­ning team. “In our pro­gram there is a lot of busi­ness.”

OCADU’s team focused on the ear­ly expe­ri­ence of breast­feed­ing for first-time moth­ers.  A suc­cess­ful inter­ven­tion to encour­age breast­feed­ing among new moth­ers could help reduce the $13 bil­lion annu­al spent in the Unit­ed States man­ag­ing dis­eases like asth­ma and obe­si­ty that have been proven to be reduced with­in a breast­fed pop­u­la­tion.

“I think it was an extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ty for bring­ing busi­ness­es and design togeth­er, said Ryan Rosensweig of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati of the com­pe­ti­tion. “In this kind of set­ting you real­ly get to explore the dynam­ics bet­ter. I just hope this grows and that there are more oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to express them­selves in this way.”

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati team pro­posed an inte­grat­ed solu­tion designed to relieve stress for patient care­givers, par­tic­u­lar­ly for elder­ly patients that includ­ed an online tool kit and a search engine sim­i­lar to online dat­ing site engines.

Stu­dents from the Cal­i­for­nia Col­lege of the Arts cre­at­ed Zoom, a health edu­ca­tion and social­iza­tion plat­form for women aged 65–75 who live alone. Using edu­ca­tion­al mod­ules to teach cur­rent tools such as Face­book, Skype, and Meet­up Groups, the plat­form facil­i­tates online and real-world inter­ac­tions between these women and their net­work of fam­i­ly, friends, and care providers.

The team from the Rot­man School pro­posed a con­cept to pre­vent dis­ease and encour­age well­ness of shift work­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly those in pro­tec­tive ser­vices such as fire­fight­ers, police and EMS per­son­nel. The con­cept takes advan­tage of recent tech­no­log­i­cal advances in sleep and exer­cise track­ing devices, genet­ic test­ing, and phone sur­vey assess­ments.

“When we start­ed think­ing about a design think­ing com­pe­ti­tion, we first won­dered if such a thing is pos­si­ble. In some ways design think­ing goes against the grain of the quan­ti­ta­tive met­rics con­ven­tion­al­ly used in busi­ness school chal­lenges; how can you quan­ti­fy empa­thy? What met­rics do you apply to insight? We pur­pose­ly cre­at­ed wide para­me­ters for teams to real­ly explore and ulti­mate­ly own their solu­tions,” says Sam Singh, Rot­man MBA’11, who was one of the com­pe­ti­tion orga­niz­ers. “We felt that the best solu­tions would be greater than the sum of their parts and struc­tured the case and the judg­ing cri­te­ria accord­ing­ly.  While there might still be some debate about how these ideas mea­sure up against each oth­er, we felt that the best teams real­ly dove deep into the case and were lim­it­ed only by their imag­i­na­tions.  We’re hap­py with how things went and can’t wait to con­tin­u­al­ly iter­ate this for­mat fur­ther into the future.”

The chal­lenge in the com­pe­ti­tion was devel­oped by the Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion at the Mayo Clin­ic in con­junc­tion with Doblin, a Chica­go-based inno­va­tion strat­e­gy firm (and a part of the Mon­i­tor Group.)

The Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion now plans to incor­po­rate the solu­tions devel­oped in this case into its patient-cen­tric approach­es to deliv­er­ing improved health and well­ness out­comes. Judges includ­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Mayo Clin­ic and Doblin as well as Blue­print Busi­ness Archi­tec­ture, Bridge­point Health, Rot­man Design­Works, Idea Cou­ture, Saatchi & Saatchi, We Rep Ideas and oth­ers.

“For me it comes back to this cal­i­bra­tion of how busi­ness stu­dents and design stu­dents are learn­ing each oth­er’s skills. Events like these make peo­ple aware of the dif­fer­ences between the dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines and kind of chart out the work that needs to be done in both prac­tices,” said Ricky Thomas, a judge and Co-Head of Strate­gic Fore­sight, Idea Cou­ture.

“It was inter­est­ing to see that the three win­ners were from design schools rather than from Rot­man or from the oth­er busi­ness schools,” said Helen Wal­ters of Doblin, who gave the day’s keynote speech. “But you could see that all of the teams put an enor­mous amount of effort into their solu­tions and it was super inter­est­ing to com­pare and con­trast how peo­ple tack­led the prob­lems. There was a lot of emo­tion, ener­gy and effort involved.”

With a belief that the mind­sets and prac­tices behind great design can also be applied to the break­through growth of enter­pris­es and insti­tu­tions, the Rot­man School has been teach­ing stu­dents and orga­ni­za­tions about Busi­ness Design since 2006. In essence, Busi­ness Design blends design method­olo­gies and busi­ness acu­men to cre­ate a process that helps iden­ti­fy broad­er oppor­tu­ni­ties, cre­ate new ideas and accel­er­ate mar­ket suc­cess. Learn more about Busi­ness Design at the Rot­man School at

The Rot­man School of Man­age­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is redesign­ing busi­ness edu­ca­tion for the 21st cen­tu­ry with a cur­ricu­lum based on Inte­gra­tive Think­ing. Locat­ed in the world’s most diverse city, the Rot­man School fos­ters a new way to think that enables the design of cre­ative busi­ness solu­tions.  The School is cur­rent­ly rais­ing $200 mil­lion to ensure Cana­da has the world-class busi­ness school it deserves. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it



For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Ken McGuf­fin
Man­ag­er, Media Rela­tions
Rot­man School of Man­age­ment
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Voice 416.946.3818
Fol­low Rot­man on Twit­ter @rotmanschool