The Rotman Design Challenge brings together top talent from leading business schools around the world to solve a business design challenge posed by an innovative and forward-thinking sponsor.

The RDC challenges students to put business design into practice in a collaborative and nurturing environment where they are supported by academics, professionals and consultants from the fields of business and design.

Using creative problem solving techniques and frameworks from both the business and design disciplines, over one hundred students around the world will have the opportunity to share their experiences and to compete for top prizes in Toronto, Canada.

Business Design is a human-centred approach to creative problem solving that applies design principles and practices to business innovation challenges.

We are on the cusp of a design revolution in business. As a result, today’s business people don’t need to understand designers better, they need to become designers.

Roger Martin, Former Dean

Latest updates

@‏RotmanDesign #‏RDCxFidelity


2016 Rotman Design Challenge Sponsor

These shifting financial and family dynamics have prompted us to consider many areas of opportunity.

How might we (HMW) enable our customers to share financial experiences and literacy across generations? HMW help people balance competing health, wealth and lifestyle priorities? HMW enable wealth inheritors to make the most of what they receive? HMW create a sense of financial wellness in investors regardless of their asset level? HMW explore spaces and services that promote a holistic approach to financial wellness across generations?

How might Fidelity Investments respond to these shifting dynamics and best meet the emerging needs of our customers?

About the Rotman Design Challenge

At Rotman, we believe that the mindsets and practices behind great design can also be applied to the breakthrough growth of enterprises and institutions. In essence, business design blends design methodologies and business acumen to create a process that helps identify broader opportunities, create new ideas and accelerate market success.

Bhavin, MBA Candidate 2016

Participating in the Rotman Design Challenge is unlike any form of case competition you’ve ever experienced.

Learning about design thinking principles is one thing, but being motivated and engaged to actually conduct client interviews, work tirelessly to truly develop relevant insights and bring it all together into a meaningful and thorough business strategy is a completely different game. Putting these principles into practices will significantly change the way you think about problem solving in the future.

In addition to this, the ability to compete against not only top tier business schools, but top tier design schools across North America was especially intriguing. Understanding how they approached such an abstract and interesting problem from a non-traditional client was a significant part of what made the competition so enthralling and engaging.

Business Design has deepened my ability to empathically connect with our consumers.

Participating in the Rotman Design Challenge was enriching. Not only was I able to tackle a tough industry problem, but also meet people from all kinds of disciplines. This allowed me to collect different points of view, all of which I am now able to utilize in my professional life

Paulina, Class of 2014
Sean, MBA Candidate 2013

The Rotman Design Challenge provides an unparalleled opportunity for MBA students.

Within a typical MBA curriculum, we don't have many opportunities to refine and practice the design thinking toolkit. The Rotman Design Challenge not only gave us that opportunity, but we were able to exchange creative ideas with students from across the US and Canada.

We have plenty of competitions in the strategy, marketing, and finance realms, but none that emphasize the ability to innovate and go beyond the cookie cutter MBA approaches to problem solving. The advantage of the Rotman Design Challenge is the opportunity to work on a difficult real world problem, and then present ideas to a sponsor that embraces the deeper, more actionable insights that come from a design mindset.

Past Challenges

Rotman Design Challenge 2015

Sponsor: Steelcase
Winning school: IIT Institute of Design, Chicago, USA

The world of work has changed dramatically. Organizations are faced with rapid advancements in technology, increasing complexity, the driving need to innovate, and the global competition for both customers and talent.

The built environment (the office) is challenged to meet the pace of change.

Describe how Steelcase, the world’s leading supplier of office furniture, and a company grounded in the research and understanding of user behavior, will continue to play to win in this evolving work environment over the next 20 years.

Rotman Design Challenge 2014

Sponsor: Target
Winning school: Rotman School of Management, Toronto, Canada

Rotman Design Challenge 2013

Sponsor: Target
Winning school: IIT Institute of Design, Chicago, USA

Rotman Design Challenge 2012

Sponsor: TD Canada Trust
Winning school: IIT Institute of Design, Chicago, USA

Rotman Design Challenge 2011

Sponsor: Mayo Clinic
Winning school: OCAD, Toronto, Canada


Saturday & Sunday, Mar. 5th-6th

RDC Case Competition Weekend  


Prizes & Awards are still being determined! Stay tuned & stay excited!!!

1st Place Team: ($9000 + eternal glory and bragging rights)
2nd Place Team: ($5000 + our deep admiration)
3rd Place Team: ($3000 + a pretty solid round of applause)


Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
105 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, CANADA

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Application due date: January 22 at 5pm EST

To apply, Teams will be required to submit a video application (3 mins. max) that:
1) Introduces your team
2) Shows us why you should participate in this year's challenge
3) Answers the following question: Describe a company’s business model that uses one or more of the 3 gears of business design. Why is this company ahead of the curve? Aim to introduce us to a company we haven’t heard of before.

If you have any questions before then, don't hesitate to contact Nika Stelman, Khalid Kurji, or Blake van Delft at

General information

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Things to see in Toronto

CN Tower
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Toronto Islands
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Visit Toronto's historic castle.
The Distillery Historic District
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For the foodies

Saint Lawrence Market
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For the gallery lovers

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
The largest art gallery in Toronto.
Royal Ontario Museum
Very close to Rotman!
Bata Shoe Museum
A shoe museum? We haz.
Gardiner Museum
Special exhibits and collections.

For the shop-a-holics

Bloor-Yorkville District
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Toronto Eaton Centre
Visit "Canada's Times Square" at this world-class mall in the heart of downtown Toronto.



Have a question that's not answered here? Ask us:

I am part of a MBA program, but I would like to team up with my colleagues from a Graphic Design / Architecture / Computer Science / Media Studies program. Can we do it?
Yes, you are encouraged to team up with students from other programs as long as this program is a graduate level program and it is part of the same university/college. Teams typically consist of 4-6 members. However, Rotman students who wish to participate have to be a BDC member. If you are not a part of the club yet, the BDC is still accepting members everyday!
How many teams will be competing in the Rotman Design Challenge 2016?
Up to 25 teams will be able to compete in this year's challenge. Teams will be limited through an application process.
Could you tell me more about the Challenge Day?
Full challenge details and schedule will be released in early February 2016. You can assume the day will be a full day, split between individual team judging, keynote speeches, and the finalist presentations. There will also be a reception, networking event, and welcome party in the evening at a local lounge.
How much time should I allocate for this challenge?
The time commitment varies from 20-40 hours per team member over a course of 4 weeks, which is roughly 5-10 hours per week. Some successful teams have historically spent less than that and some have spent more than that, so it is not by any means a rule. However, teams generally get what they give in terms of commitment and effort.
What is the ideal team composition?
Design challenges are notoriously ambiguous. It's up to you to build your team with the skills and dynamics necessary to arrive at a great solution. Remember, your solution is both an articulation of your ideas and a demonstration of your thinking. You should identify the strengths within your team to clarify and assign specific deliverables to each team member.
Are there any costs or fees for joining the competition?
There is a $75/member fee for participating in the challenge
How should our team prepare?
Use your program's resources! Most participating schools are quite dedicated to the RDC. Design schools in particular have been known to prepare very rigorously for the RDC with dedicated team coaching sessions with faculty. Business school teams take note: strategic recommendations alone may not be enough to impress the judges. Teams that invest in some "production value" in videos, prototypes, mock-ups, or other forms of "doing" will generally do better. But, remember to balance your "doing" (prototyping) with solid "thinking" (analysis) to back up your ideas.