Skip to main content


Coronavirus Challenge

Coronavirus Challenge PosterJoin the Fight Against COVID-19 impacts in the City of Rochester 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic, social and emotional devastation all around the world. Here in Rochester, organizations and individuals are facing long term hardship due to social isolation, financial constraints, and health concerns.

As the world unites to fight against the impacts of the pandemic, we are calling you to collaborate with our partners in Rochester to address their most urgent needs.

Our Rochester partners have faced these impacts with resilience and creativity, testing out innovative solutions and thinking outside the box to continue their service to customers and maintain healthy conditions for their workers. Some of these innovative businesses and organizations have opened their doors to University of Rochester students to collaborate, co-create and implement some new solutions that will come out of this challenge. 

Our community partners will each provide a problem statement that will be addressed by you, the student teams, through collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship. You will be asked to attend workshops, interview and brainstorm with your community partners, and devise solutions and prototypes to finally pitch your idea to a panel of judges.

Registration is now open!

The Challenge

In this ten day innovation challenge, University of Rochester students will work in virtual teams to develop solutions for addressing COVID-related challenges in the City of Rochester. At the end of the challenge they’ll present their solution to their community partner and a panel of judges. 

The Partners

  • Westside Farmer’s Market
  • Gandhi Institute
  • 540W Main

Participant Outcomes

  • The team that places first will receive a $1,500 prize to share between team members. 
  • The team that places second will receive a $500 price to share between team members. 

All teams will receive: 

  • A certificate in Community Innovation 
  • Credit towards the Grand Challenges Scholars Program and the Medallion Program
  • Resume-building learning opportunities in user research, prototyping, public speaking, and more

How It Works

You have until July 10 to register as a 4-person team or an individual. If you register as an individual we will pair you with a team prior to the start of the competition. 

The challenge will kick off on July 15, when your team will be paired with a Rochester community partner who is experiencing a challenge related to COVID-19. 

Throughout the ten-day challenge, your team will be able to access mentors, workshops, and learning resources related to: 

  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Community Engagement 
  • Design Thinking & Human-Centered Design 

Your team will work at a fast and furious pace to understand your partner’s needs and create the best possible solution for meeting those needs. 

Depending on the needs of your partner and the strengths of your team you may choose to design a technical or non-technical solution. 

Individuals must acknowledge that they have read the official challenge rules before completing the registration process.

The Rules

  • Any Undergraduate or Graduate student of the University of Rochester is eligible to participate (including recent UR 2020 Graduates).
  • The Rochester Coronavirus Challenge begins on Wednesday July 15 and ends on Friday July 24. 
  • Teams may contain up to four team members.
  • Your team’s community partner and challenge question will be emailed to you at 9 a.m. on July 15. 
  • By submitting a solution, participants agree to all of the submission requirements, including confidentiality, selection and reviewing process.
  • You may use any outside expertise to create your solution. However, we ask that you acknowledge your sources in your final presentation. 

Important Dates

  • June 22, 2020: Registration Opens
  • July 10, 2020: Registration Closes 
  • July 13, 2020: Teams Assigned (if registered as an individual)
  • July 15, 2020: Challenge Begins
  • July 24, 2020: Virtual Presentation
  • July 24, 2020: Winners Announced


Contact Dewey Bazirake.