Passing the torch: MIF welcomes 2nd cohort

McGill Innovation Fund support program kicks off with an advisor matchmaking session, followed by an Olympic-inspired networking cocktail

The McGill Innovation Fund (MIF) officially entered its second year of operation with a kick-off event at the Faculty Club on Thursday, February 2nd. The two-part experience began with an advisor matchmaking session that brought together the ten recipient teams with a room full of experienced entrepreneurs, all of whom volunteered to attend the introductory workshop.

The workshop marked the opening of the MIF Support Program, which is one of the main pillars of the MIF. While early-stage funding is a critical factor to the survival of fledgling businesses, getting useful advice can also play a crucial role. The MIF provides this advice in a structured format, where volunteers with complementary backgrounds form Advisory Boards to meet with the teams throughout a 12-month period.

In total, 18 experts took part in the workshop, which was focused on helping each team determine objectives for the months ahead. Another 22 experts could not make the actual event, but have confirmed their participation in future meetings as additional members of the Advisory Boards set up for each team.

Feedback from the volunteers after the workshop was enthusiastic. “I am straight-up blown away by the ambitious innovations the cohorts have brought forward,” said first-time volunteer advisor Frederic Aouad; a specialist in sales and marketing, Aouad brought useful skills to the workshop. “It was a huge reminder of the value of research in our society, and I am humbled to be one of the experts invited to assist their journey over the next 12 months.”

“It was extremely helpful to have their expertise and willingness to offer constructive opinions and ideas,” said MIF recipient Mahsa Jalali. Her team called MoSERS secured an award in the Discover stage to help her team develop their cancer monitoring system that aims to reduce the dependance on bulky and time-consuming MRI scans. “Down the road, having such business perspective will definitely help us to better prepare our technology for commercialization,” she added.

Following the workshop was a reception with participation from other members of the McGill entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as several teams from the first cohort of MIF recipients. In a tongue-in-cheek but symbolic ceremony – replete with a short Olympic torch relay playing in the background – 1st cohort MIF alumnus Professor Changhong Cao proffered a ‘torch’ to Mahsa Jalali, who represented the 2nd cohort. The two entrepreneurs then turned and faced the audience to warm applause.

Experts who had advised the 1st cohort teams were also presented with gifts to recognize their support and generosity to the MIF, without which the program would not have the same impact.

Looking ahead, the roadmaps will form the basis for future advisory board meetings with the volunteer advisors and the teams, which take place a total of six times through the year. This close collaboration and follow-up by advisors is a unique part of the MIF, and one of the reasons why the program is so popular.

Tony Falco is one such advisor. A serial entrepreneur himself, he has been an avid participant in MIF events, teams and lectures. "The MIF team led by Mark Weber has done a remarkable job of supporting innovation in the McGill ecosystem," he said. "It has been exciting to help the MIF entrepreneurs and witness the impressive advancement of their projects towards real world impact."

Back to top