Sandbox Discover Program

At ShiftKey Labs we support students who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means we know how to make our ideas better.

At this stage our mantra is:

  1. Fall in love with a problem not the idea – the more attached you are to your idea the less open you will be to seeing it grow, change and improve.
  2. The best way to find a great idea is to have many ideas. This is best achieved by immersing yourself in the problem domain and letting people be your guide.
  3. Form the right team. Problem solving as a group of one is not nearly as impactful as exploring problems and generating ideas as part of team. Different expertise and worldview yields creative tensions that push ideas to another level.

We would like to provide you with an opportunity to be part of our sandbox experience and learn how these principles of early innovation can be applied to almost any context.

Welcome to the Sandbox Discover program!

We are offering post-secondary students in any degree program a guided approach to innovation at the earliest stages through the Sandbox Discover program. The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!

Structured as a series of six (6) extra-curricular workshops, we will focus on understanding why you need to fall in love with the problem, not the solution; to understand people before pitching an idea; to build confidence in your creativity, and what it means to be innovative with different people. The program will wrap up with a final design challenge that will allow you to bring all the pieces together.

World’s Challenge Challenge Partnership

Participating in the Sandbox Discover program is also a great way to prepare for the World’s Challenge Challenge. This international competition asks student teams to propose ideas that could have a positive impact on some of the world’s most pressing problems.

A local Dalhousie competition – to determine what team of students will represent our university at the international finals in June – starts in early December. The Sandbox Discover program can provide you with the opportunity to deeply understand problems and the people they impact.

Our program is also a great place to meet other students and build a WCC team. We’ll provide additional coaching to WCC teams who emerge from our program and want some feedback on their application to the competition.


You are free to attend any or all workshops but to get the most out of this program, we would love to see you at every one! There are also several other important reasons to attend as many as possible:

  1. You must actively participate in at least 5 out of 6 workshops in order to participate in the final design challenge
  2. If you complete 5 of 6 workshops and the design challenge, you will earn a printed Sandbox Discover program Certificate of Participation. This is a great addition to your résumé!
  3. The Sandbox Discover program certificate can also be used to gain official Dalhousie acknowledgement on your co-curricular record.


Any post-secondary student enrolled at least part-time in any post-secondary degree or diploma program is eligible to register. No prior experience in innovation or startups is required.

In fact, if you have prior experience or you’re currently working on a (potential) startup idea, our Lab Residency program might be a better fit.

Please submit the following form to register for workshops in the Sandbox Discover program. Space is limited and seating for each workshop will be prioritized in the following order:

  1. Those who register in advance and who are aiming to earn the certificate (i.e. participate in at least 5 of the 6 workshops and the design challenge)
  2. Those who register in advance and who are NOT aiming to earn the certificate (i.e. < 5 workshops and/or who will not participate in the design challenge)
  3. Those who have not pre-registered and who show up at the door

If you have additional questions before registering, please contact us.