Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Researchers: Fostering a Culture of Research to Impact

Published: 26 October 2023

NeuroSphere held its most recent event, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Researchers, on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, at the McGill Engine Centre.

This event was designed to empower researchers to take their work beyond the laboratory and teach them how to transform their findings into practical solutions that address real-world challenges, discussing traditional company routes such as start-ups and many other alternatives, such as licensing, non-profits, social enterprises and b-corps.

The day began with an introductory keynote presentation by Robert Nason, a William Dawson Scholar and the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, where he explored non-academic paths one can follow to maximize impact in entrepreneurship, highlighting their advantages and challenges. Nason set the tone for the rest of the day by considering target markets, growth dimensions, entrepreneurship roles and their involvement, legal form options and financing.

McGill Engine’s Katya Marc moderated an engaging panel featuring Manuel Cruz, Chief Scientist and Head of the Human Machine Interface Laboratory (HMI) at Innovobot Labs, Sherin Al-Safadi, Vice President of Medical & Corporate Affairs (Oncology) at Radiopharm Theranostics, and Cynthia Goh, Professor of Chemistry and the Director of the Impact Centre at the University of Toronto, who shared insights about their successful experience bridging the gaps between academia and entrepreneurship.

The second panel featured insights from funding experts Mark Weber, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at McGill, Jean-Philippe Taillon, Managing Director of Fonds d’Investissement Eurêka, Alexandra Ferland, Account Manager at MEDTEQ+, Jean-Philippe Delisle, investment analyst at Axelys, and Romain Lortille Bruel, Senior Innovation Advisor at Conseil de l'innovation du Québec. Key topics included strategies for establishing industry partnerships, attracting investors, building startups, social innovation and embracing failure.

The closing keynote was delivered by Jeffrey Blum, technical project manager for the IMAGE project, carried out by the Shared Reality Lab at McGill. Focusing on how open-source and dual licensing allows researchers to make an impact with collaboration, grants and IP strategies, Blum drew on his experience leading an open-source project which seeks to improve the access to internet graphics for people who are blind or partially sighted.

Thank you to the Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training (DCAT) for their valuable partnership in making this event possible, and a special thanks to our attendees for their engaging questions and great energy.

See you at our next event!

Photo credits: Chris Maskell and Roberta Santangelo

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