Ottawa, ON

The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is thrilled to announce the winner of the Canada Comeback Challenge: The Mining Network (TMN)! Colleen Jackson, Ryynn Rathwell, and Natasha Werbicki from the University of Calgary pitched their solution to a panel of judges in a live event today featuring emcee Michele Romanow from CBC’s Dragon’s Den. 

TMN was one of three teams that made it to the final event after a round of public voting. The second place finalist was IM4HER and third place went to SkillsX — both received positive feedback from the judges. The judges included: Mark Beckles, VP, Social Impact & Innovation at RBC; Dr. Deborah Saucier, President and Vice-Chancellor of Vancouver Island University; and Pedro Barata, Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre at Ryerson University.

The Canada Comeback Challenge was part of BHER’s response to COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, nearly 90% of students reported a labour market disruption, and some 30% of students reported that their work-integrated learning (WIL) placement was either canceled or delayed. With support from the federal Government, BHER created and delivered an innovative micro-WIL program in an entirely virtual format. 

Student teams from colleges, polytechnics, and universities across Canada collaborated and competed to solve top-of-mind, nationally relevant challenges facing employers in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Along the way, BHER provided students with mentors, professional development opportunities, and mental health programming. 

Their ideas and proposed solutions address issues related to everything from accessibility, EDI, and environmental sustainability, to skills, training, and tourism. Collectively they prove that  Canada’s students have a lot to offer employers in every sector as they respond and recover from the global pandemic.  

“Congratulations to  TMN and every student team that participated in the Canada Comeback Challenge,” said Val Walker, CEO of BHER. “I am inspired by your ability to collaborate, innovate and think critically about how to solve some of the most complex challenges facing Canada’s public, private, and non-profit sectors. I look forward to following your successes.”

In response to a challenge put forward by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MIHR), TMN created a user-friendly, interactive platform designed to increase transparency in the Canadian mining industry. The TMN data solution aggregates Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) and National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) data to provide the user with a pop-up information box on any selected mine. The information includes: the company that owns the mine, the commodity that is processed, possible contaminants, and links to cross-reference with industry standards. With group members from a range of educational and work backgrounds, TMN reflects the kind of interdisciplinary skill sets and ambition that participating students brought to the competition. 

Through the Canada Comeback Challenge, BHER engaged 26 industry partners, sourced 87 challenges, and connected students with over 100 volunteer industry mentors. This innovative model of skills development has helped replace WIL placements lost during the pandemic and will be a building block for future virtual programs, including BHER’s Campus Challenge currently underway and the soon-to-be-launched Summer Challenge. Find out more about our work here:


About the Business + Higher Education Roundtable
The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization bringing together some of Canada’s largest companies and leading post-secondary institutions. Since 2015, BHER has worked to harness the strengths of Canada’s business and post-secondary education sectors to build opportunities for young Canadians, boost innovation and drive collaboration. Learn more at

Media Contact: Jennifer Schenkel - Senior Manager, Communications - Business + Higher Education Roundtable - 613-695-3511 -  @email