A University of Victoria student has invented a new way to give cyclists a boost when it comes to gruelling climbs up hills.

Simon Park, a mechanical engineering and business student at the school, invented a small trailer-mounted electrically motorized wheel that attaches to the back of a bike, to give the rider an on-demand boost.

Park says he got the idea for the “Caboost” when he was riding up the hills on his bike ride to school.

“I’d finally get to campus and I’m just soaked in sweat and didn’t want to do that anymore,” Park told CTV Vancouver Island. “I was just thinking one day and I thought: ‘What about coming up with some sort of solution that’s outside the box and also outside the bike?’”

The prototype is described as “the first to apply innovative semi-autonomous technology to make commuting by bicycle easy, practical and affordable for everyone, regardless of physical ability.”

There are other electric attachments that help turn a bicycle’s wheels, but Park’s invention is different because it adds a third wheel behind the bike.

The Caboost can travel for up to 50 kilometres on a single charge and can be turned on by a turning the bike’s handlebar. Park hopes to one day sell the device for less than $500, which he says is approximately 80 per cent cheaper than some electric bikes on the market, but more expensive than some other attachments.

The Caboost is a finalist for the South Island Open Innovation Challenge, which pits 10 business ideas against each other, with a chance to win one of three $15,000 prizes.

The contest is designed to help ideas or inventions that solve an issue in the region. Of the 10 finalists, there are projects that aim to solve problems around transportation, food access, opioid overdoses, access for people with disabilities and homelessness.

Glen Curry is tackling homelessness with his invention of the Home-Pod, a mobile homeless shelter that doubles as a storage unit when not in use.

“Every time I go downtown, it’s bang, (homelessness is) in your face and I think: ‘Wow, there’s got to be something we can do for them,’” he said.

The three winners will be announced on March 11 at the University of Victoria.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Chandler Grieve