Team Waterloo places third in Global Final with hub for immigration resources

Team from the University of WaterlooThree students from the University of Waterloo hailing from different countries, with different experiences and enrolled in different programs, came together to develop one app aimed at reducing inequalities and improving the transition for immigrants coming to Canada.

Their idea was selected out of 16 teams from around the world to receive third prize in the 2022 World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) Global Final competition hosted virtually by Western in June.

Boon Kent Chin, Hongwen Xu (Miley) and Jia Qi Liu (Leo) from Malaysia, China and Canada, respectively, presented their idea, Next: Immigrant Service: All-in-One App. The online solution provides access to housing, learning hubs, banking services, and cultural communities with different languages.

The culturally connected and community-driven app also aims to create a reciprocal relationship where immigrants who use the services earlier will then help future newcomers in their own ethnocultural groups.

“There are many gaps for people moving to Canada. We want to improve the condition of immigration and become a solution to the migration solution,” said Chin, a fourth-year student in Global Business and Digital Arts. Chin came up with the initial idea as part of a course project before joining together with Xu, a fourth-year student in Environment and Business and Liu, a fourth-year student in Science and Business.

“When we first got involved with WCC for Waterloo’s competition, we thought all the projects were good and we didn’t stand a chance because we had just started doing product evaluations and it was really just an idea,” said Chin. “But the feedback we received was great and we realized this could really go somewhere. It’s exciting.”

The opportunity to connect with students from around the world at the Global Final was another motivator for the team.

The World’s Challenge Challenge asks students to form interdisciplinary teams and come up with a solution to a global issue based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Participating universities host their own campus competitions, with the winning teams advancing to the Global Final – a four-day summit hosted by Western featuring speakers, networking and mentoring opportunities and culminating in the final pitch competition.

“I was excited to meet all the other teams and to interact with amazing people who have the desire to change the world. It was really inspiring,” said Xu.

“Besides being a great way to validate your own idea, participating in the competition gives you the chance to see what other people are doing, which can show you what you’re lacking,” she said.

Throughout the week, the team was also able to connect with mentors, speakers and the competition judges to seek advice and expertise.

“The prize money is not the only thing that encourages us to keep going with the idea. It’s the recognition from the judges and the mentors that our idea can be feasible and can potentially have a big impact on the world,” said Liu.

The team plans to continue to develop the app and hopes to become an official partner for the Government of Canada.

“We think it makes sense for the government to support and promote this service to people immigrating to Canada. We’re in the process of setting up the company to make it a legitimate business using the money we received as our competition prize,” said Chin.

“I definitely think our idea will continue beyond the Challenge,” said Xu. “We have the chance to do something really great to help people and we want to try. There are problems everywhere and every problem needs an idea to solve it.”