Select Page

2023 National Inter-University Big Data and AI Challenge

Leveraging Open Data Analytics and Machine Learning to Improve Diagnosis of Diseases, Patients’ Care and Support

About the Challenge

“More than three million Canadians living with a rare disease have the added heartache of knowing that they, or their child, were diagnosed too late or didn’t get the specialist care they needed to avoid irreparable harm or disability.” National survey by Ipsos Canada, commissioned by the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD)

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) approaches are creating new avenues in understanding diseases and treatments. Open Data pertaining to patients’ treatment, social, economic, and/or geo ecological situation analyzed with AI can be used to gain insights to improve general public awareness of diseases and healthy lifestyle as well as cooperation between patients and medical professionals. Additionally, health information acquired with Generative AI can enable empowerment of patients by providing them with a better understanding of their health conditions. Patients can actively participate in their healthcare journey, ask informed questions, and make more educated decisions about their treatment options.

We challenge students to use Open Data and Open Science in combination with computational thinking and machine learning to find and develop sustainable Big Data and AI solutions to enhance patients’ and healthcare practitioners’ use of Generative AI, empower the public to better understand diseases using AI, and equip them with the skills to ask more informed questions and collaborate effectively with healthcare professionals. 


The Inter-University Big Data and AI Challenge (IUBDC) is not only a novel form of public research that taps into the previously underutilized expertise of young professionals but also an inquiry-driven, experiential learning program that invites students from any undergraduate or graduate program to apply data science and computational thinking to solve real-world issues. The IUBDC generates high-quality computational research and fosters innovative ideas to support and advance public health research.

How it Works

Teams of up to 5 students are each provided with datasets, workshops, learning resources, and tools for data analysis. It is recommended to make interdisciplinary teams to make most of this experience. Teams will present their research findings in the form of scientific manuscripts, competing for monetary and academic prizes, at the culminating finale event. The abstracts of all participating teams will be published in the open access, peer-reviewed NRC Research Press STEM Fellowship Journal. Finalists’ videos and manuscripts will be published with Underline. We also facilitate participants with preprint opportunities at  JMIR Publications.

Why Participate?

Want to land your next internship?

Inter-University Big Data Challenge is a great place to meet and network with  industry and academia experts. Additionally, develop analytical and computational thinking by using modern techniques in the context of current, real-world challenges with IUBDC.


Network with experts!

We will host workshops presented by industry experts to help you through the challenge. 


Want to be rewarded for your hard work?

Win prizes worth $12K+, there’s something for everyone.


Practice Scientific Writing

Practice scientific writing and get the chance to publish your ideas in the peer-reviewed STEM Fellowship Journal, Canada’s largest publisher of international scientific journals.

    Suggested Topics and Datasets

    Participants are free to choose a research topic from suggested or built their inquiry around of their own within the overall theme of the Challenge.

    The datasets provided here were identified by academic advisors of the program and our program team. Participants are free to choose/use any of it as well as find or mine data of their own and combine it to achieve best analytics and ML results.

    Register for the Challenge

    Registration closes on May 21, 2023 at 11:59 PT. Please note that the registration fee is C$20 per team (2-5 people) and C$5 for solo registrants.

    Ready to participate?



    Do I need previous programming experience?

    You do not need previous experience with programming, although it is recommended. We welcome all students who are eager to put effort into learning and expanding their skillsets, as well as those who show any level of interest in data science or the challenge topic. Additionally, we will provide you with access to resources and webinars to learn everything you need to succeed!

    How do I form or join a team?

    We encourage participants to start forming teams before the event. You may also register and participate on your own or request to be placed into a team after registration. It is also recommended to make interdisciplinary teams given the nature of some of our data challenge topics. Each team is encouraged to have at least one member having a medicine, life sciences, biology or a related field. This is recommended and not mandatory.

    Do I need to have an idea for my project?

    Think about what interests you the most in the field of the provided topic. Reflect on your day-to-day; talk to your friends and professional network from academia and industry; explore emerging technologies and platforms; read the internet and research articles. In hackathons like these, many teams come up with their topics in the first few days of the challenge, rather than beforehand.

    Is this competition only open to Canadian students?

    No, students from any country can sign up. The IUBDC is not limited to Canadians. 

    Who is eligible to participate in the inter-university big data challenge?

    Undergraduate and graduate students can register for the Big Data Challenge. 

    Can students from different universities form a team?

    Yes, students do not necessarily have to represent the university at which they are studying.

    What are the steps to get financial assistance?

    Financial aid is available for teams that  are unable to pay the registration fee. Financial Aid requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and supporting documents may be requested. The team needs to submit an email with the subject “Request for Financial Aid – Letter of explanation – Team Leader Name” addressed to the COO at explaining their situation.

    Who to contact for more information/questions?

    Please contact us with questions at

     7,287 total views,  48 views today