MaRS and CIBC to launch an inclusive design challenge

Opportunity to receive funding to help remove barriers to employment for Canadians living with disability

TORONTO, December 3, 2020 – To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, MaRS and CIBC announced the launch of an inclusive design challenge to help remove barriers to employment faced by Canadians who live with disability. According to research undertaken by MaRS with support from CIBC, 55 per cent of persons with disabilities surveyed say their workplace is not currently accessible.

“Companies with accessible and inclusive workplaces are more innovative and more likely to succeed,” said Shahab Shahnazari, director, Innovation Partnerships at MaRS. “However, people with disabilities are often excluded. This challenge attempts to find solutions to common barriers that limit our workforce from reflecting the diversity of our country. Reducing barriers now is more critical than ever as we rebuild our economy. I look forward to seeing the ideas from our innovators and the opportunities that these solutions can create.”

In the first phase of the challenge, MaRS will seek input from individuals living with disability to identify the four areas of opportunity that will become the focus for the competition. The details of each focus area will be announced on May 20th (Global Accessibility Awareness Day) and innovators will have until June 30th to submit solutions.

“The future competitiveness of our country depends on engaging all of our intellectual capital. Enabling persons with disabilities to be full participants in our economy is not just a positive gesture, it’s also good for businesses and for Canadian economic growth,” said Andrea Nalyzyty, Senior Vice-President, Chief Compliance Officer & Global Regulatory Affairs and Chair of CIBC’s Accessibility Action Committee.

Key 2021 dates:

Jan 26: Call-out for employment barriers from the disability community
Mar 4: Deadline to submit entries
May 20: Innovation Challenge launch with announcement of four core challenge areas
Jun 30: Deadline to submit solution entries

Proposals from each of the four focus areas will be evaluated by an Advisory Council made up of business and community leaders, including those with lived experience with disability. Members of this council will be announced in May 2021.

About CIBC

CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with 10 million personal banking, business, public sector and institutional clients. Across Personal and Business Banking, Commercial Banking and Wealth Management, and Capital Markets businesses, CIBC offers a full range of advice, solutions and services through its leading digital banking network, and locations across Canada, in the United States and around the world. Ongoing news releases and more information about CIBC can be found at

In addition to its ongoing commitment to ensure that 8-9% of annual hires are persons with disabilities, CIBC is also a member of The Valuable 500, an international initiative that strives to put disability on the business agenda. In 2019, CIBC added its support to #DearEverybody, a national movement led by Holland Bloorview to end stigma and disrupt biases surrounding disability. 

About MaRS

MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. A registered non-profit, MaRS supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. In addition, MaRS convenes all members of the tech ecosystem to drive breakthrough discoveries, grow the economy and make an impact by solving real problems for real people — in Canada and around the world.

For further information contact:

CIBC: or 647-456-4556