Here at Impact Canada, we work with government partners to help them figure out new ways to address the complex issues that affect Canadians. One of the ways we are doing this is by using innovative approaches like Challenge Prizes that are designed to incentivise better outcomes. In the fall of 2017, we were tasked to help find solutions to the opioid crisis. An idea to a Challenge? In 12 months? On a complex problem? Here is how we did it… Every Challenge Prize is different and there’s no straight line from start to finish. Here is the approach that we took to developing the Drug Checking Technology Challenge. First, we didn’t do it alone, we partnered with the lead for opioid response, Health Canada and the National Research Council Together, we identified a direct, impactful problem statement: Stop death by opioid overdose Next, we put our heads together and came up with two potential Challenge ideas. Drug Detection Technology, and Drug Checking Technology. Why two Challenges? Because we had to consider the needs of two different populations. In December 2017, we developed out first Challenge Statement We conducted interviews and consultations with people in the field representing different viewpoints of the opioid crisis. We learned that there was no clear consensus on the level of risk or need for improved drug detection technology. But we also had clear direction! We would look at new ways to improve Drug Checking Technologies. The Challenge Statement was refined. Our target population was narrowed to focus on people that use drugs and those that support them We talked to all kinds of stakeholders. Often. To address their concerns, re-think and adjust. We asked ourselves and our stakeholders, “Does this Challenge address an important problem?” “Will you participate?” And most importantly, “Will this Challenge move us toward an outcome of reduced death by opioid overdose? Finally. We go it. Our Challenge. On October 2, 2018, we launched the Drug Checking Technology Challenge. The Challenge will run over 16 months, with a grand winner announced in 2020. So, we launched our Challenge, but we don’t know yet what outcomes it may yield. But after a year of planning, here are a few things we do know for sure: Ideas can be broad, imperfect and undefined at first, and that’s a good starting point. Thoughtful citizen engagement, the ability to adjust and reiterate, and a clear focus on the outcomes allowed us to find new ways of working together on a complex and rapidly unfolding crisis. While this is our story for the Drug Checking Technology Challenge, the journey is similar in many cases. Working in new and innovative ways can be hard work. The path is not always clear. But it can be done, and sometimes within 12 months or less. Our time and energy is worth it, to deliver better results for the people of Canada. We all have a role to play in helping to define and solve issues that affect Canadian citizens. To find out more about our Challenges, visit us at impact.canada.ca