Emerging ocean innovators and entrepreneurs latest cohort of national program

Sep 23rd, 2021

Jeff Green

More than 20 research teams from across the country are taking part in a unique, Memorial-led program.

Lab2Market is a team-based, experiential learning program that trains PhDs and post-doctoral scholars to become future corporate innovators.

Memorial is one of only four universities in Canada currently offering the program.

Here, the focus is on ocean-related research. The program is being offered as part of the Ocean Startup Project.

In total, 22 teams – made up of graduate students or post-doctoral fellows, faculty supervisors and industry mentors – are part of the latest cohort.

They are working closely with a group of instructors highly skilled in the ocean sector who will provide feedback and coaching during the seven-week program.

Teams from Memorial, Dalhousie University, University of New Brunswick, McGill University, Ontario Tech, York University, University of Alberta and University of Lethbridge are participating.

The groups are leading research ranging from sea-ice monitoring and microplastic research to waste management and developing ocean sensors.

Big interest

Interest in Lab2Market Oceans has grown dramatically since last year, when the program was offered for the first time.

Applications are up 45 per cent, along with a 50 per cent increase in women faculty leads, almost doubling last year’s numbers.

“With more than 40 per cent of our research related to oceans, Memorial is at the forefront of ocean innovation and ready to develop highly skilled entrepreneurs in this growing sector,” said Dr. Paula Mendonça (PhD’10), director of innovation and entrepreneurship with the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, a unit within the vice-president (research) portfolio.

“After completing this seven-week program, participants will have the skills needed to explore their research ideas in a new way and identify new commercial opportunities.”

‘Bold ideas’

Memorial’s 11 groups are based in the faculties of Science; Business Administration; Engineering and Applied Science; and at the Marine Institute.

Team members are taking part in a training boot camp followed by five weeks of customer discovery and finishing with technical and business development workshops.

Additionally, each team is receiving $15,000 to support them throughout the process.

By the end of the program, the teams will have the skills and experience needed to support the commercialization of research outcomes.

“Tackling pressing issues facing our oceans takes bold ideas,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“The Lab2Market Oceans program provides research teams the unique opportunity to collaborate with industry mentors with the goal of accelerating innovation in areas of strategic importance related to our oceans. By offering this sort of programming, Memorial is helping empower the entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow.”

Lab2Market is funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, FedDev Ontario, Western Economic Diversification Canada and Mitacs. It is delivered through Dalhousie University, Memorial University, Ryerson University and the University of Manitoba. Lab2Market Oceans involves additional support from Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, the Ocean Startup Project and Springboard Atlantic.