Expanding focus: Program will train academics to become next innovators

Dec 13th, 2019

By Jeff Green

Programs such as Lab2Market Oceans will develop highly skilled entrepreneurs in the ocean sector, says Dr. Paula Mendonca. Photo by David Howells.
Expanding focus: Program will train academics to become next innovators

Memorial is one of three Canadian universities that will offer a pilot program to teach academics how to recognize the commercial potential of their research.

Beginning next fall, Memorial and Dalhousie University will host Lab2Market, a new pan-Canadian program based on successful programs in the U.K. and the U.S.

Lab2Market is a team-based, experiential learning and lean methodology-driven program focused on training PhDs and post-doctoral scholars to become the next corporate innovators.

Each team will consist of a student or post-doctoral scholar (entrepreneurial lead), their supervisor (technical lead) and a mentor (industry lead).

Here at Memorial, the program will focus on ocean technology-related research, while a more general stream will take place at Dalhousie. Memorial teams can apply to both streams.

Developing talent

“As a university that supports entrepreneurship and innovation, Memorial has an active role in creating, growing and supporting companies through our internal ecosystem,” said Dr. Paula Mendonça, acting director of Memorial’s Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office.

“Programs such as Lab2Market Oceans will develop highly skilled entrepreneurs in the ocean sector.”

In addition to Memorial and Dalhousie, Ryerson University will also be accepting applications for a spring general stream cohort. All three will offer the program again, which is open to researchers from anywhere in Canada, in 2021.

“It is a pilot, but we hope it will be a national program going forward,” Jeff Larsen, Dalhousie’s executive director of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Identifying opportunities

According to Lab2Market, roughly one-fifth of Canadian PhDs land jobs as full-time university professors.

However, many graduates have difficulty adjusting to the workforce.

“Lab2Market prepares researchers to expand their focus beyond the lab.”— Dr. Paula Mendonça

It says the goal of Lab2Market is to cultivate a pipeline of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs and empower students and faculty to create local and global impact.

Dr. Mendonça says the new program will help highly qualified researchers adjust to industry and entrepreneurialism. She says the initiative will provide them with the skills needed to explore their research ideas in a new way and identify new commercial opportunities.

“Lab2Market prepares researchers to expand their focus beyond the lab and broaden the impact of their research into validated startup opportunities with societal benefit.”

Dr. Mendonça also says Lab2Market aligns and complements programs already offered in Atlantic Canada and she hopes that successful teams will feed into existing incubators and accelerators, such as Genesis.

For further information about the Lab2Market program, please contact the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office.

Jeff Green is a senior communications advisor with the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at jeffg@mun.ca.

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