Taste of UTM – Chair Innovation Challenge

Taste of UTM – Chair Innovation Challenge

Every year, the University of Toronto Mississauga offers a variety of initiatives to support your transition to university. This year, ICUBE participated in O-Week’s ‘​Taste of UTM’ ​fair and sat down with students (pun intended) to give them a taste of entrepreneurship through a chair innovation challenge!

ICUBE is a hub for idea exploration and early-stage business development. We provide expert support, resources, and access to opportunities for entrepreneurial students and community members across all industries.

The Chair Challenge

We challenged students to design and build a chair prototype. Players conceptualized new product ideas based on specific customer profiles they were given. It required:

  • Creativity: Can you think outside of the box while staying grounded in real human needs?
  • Critical thinking: Can you make complex inferences from user’s profiles to find their needs?
  • Resilience: When you are restricted to using clay, pipe cleaners, and toothpicks, can you push through the challenges?

With these goals in mind, we chose three winners.

The Winning Designs

This chair won the innovation prize for integrating new technologies that could help a customer with senior well-being needs. Designed by Laura Maldonado.

Chair designed for Abe Simpson
          • Artificial Intelligence Companion Bot to keep him company
          • A Mobile App/Remote controlled chair to help him get around, as well as up out of the chair
          • Sensors that monitor user stats and encourage activity after prolonged sitting
          • Sensors to notify nursing home staff if anything is wrong with the users health


This chair won the customer focus prize for showing a commitment to understanding the customer. This creator was able to extrapolate complex meaning from the simple character bio, which inspired a wide variety of features. Designed by Sophia Leal.

Chair designed for Ralphie Wiggum
          • Swivels to allow him to face whatever direction he needs to, with asymmetry which allows him to sit in a variety of positions
          • Fidget toys to help with concentration
          • Moves and bounces to allow fidgeting
          • Snack compartment
          • Massage/heating element for a back that must be sore from carrying a big backpack

This chair won the outside the box prize because the creator stole the ICUBE pencil sharpener in order to build their prototype! The explicit instructions were to “use anything you can find on the table.” Only one person decided to look at the materials on the table that weren’t intended to be building materials. Designed by Amirpouya Ebrahimi.

Chair design for Lisa Simpson

This design reminded us that we need to look at our obstacles and decide whether they are real or imagined. How can we disrupt our limiting beliefs? Exercises like this are an opportunity to find different ways to get a job done, while questioning what the “rules” are. Thinking outside of the box and finding creative solutions with a lack of resources is entrepreneurial thinking at its best.


Thanks to everyone who played our ICUBE Chair Challenge!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Indigenous business training program created by RedBird Circle Inc. in partnership with UofT Libraries, ICUBE UTM and The Bridge at UTSC

An experiential learning program that follows the school 3 semesters schedule, for anyone with a great idea who wants to make it happen.

A boutique-style remote program to support your business development and help you grow through one-on-one support. This program is open all year.

A student-led creative studio with intends to serve the prototyping and design needs of our ventures and small businesses in our community.

This 2-day retreat is designed to help you reflect on your journey, what drives you, all the hats you wear and what is next for you and your social enterprise.