Cultivating an entrepreneurial ecosystem at McMaster

Patents, trademarks, copyright and licensing technologies — all part of the standard mission of university liaison offices across Canada.

While the services and processes that link industry with a university’s expertise might seem cut-and-dried, Gay Yuyitung — recently appointed executive director of the McMaster Industrial Liaison Office (MILO) — sees a bigger picture where all the pieces of the technology transfer puzzle are connected and interrelated.

Yuyitung has been with MILO for twelve years, serving in progressive roles where she’s managed invention disclosures, evaluated new disclosures for licensing, and assisted with McMaster spin off companies.

In that time, she’s seen hundreds of enterprising campus innovators from faculty, research staff and students come through MILO’s doors for advice on how to interact with industry to move their technologies and discoveries — from their labs, centres, classrooms and hospitals — to the marketplace and the world of new products, materials, processes and jobs.

“While licensing and revenue generation are incredibly important, and our focus is very much on ensuring our researchers are outward facing with business and industry, MILO also educates, provides legal support and guidance, offers business advice, and assesses the commercialization potential of McMaster innovators’ technologies, inventions and services,” said Yuyitung.

“It’s about putting all of the critical pieces together so that we have an entrepreneurial ecosystem that thrives by making the best use of the research community’s innovations.”

Yuyitung points to the McMaster Innovation Showcase — MILO’s annual flagship event now in its seventh year — as a key initiative organized to help the research community create a culture of innovation and commercialization.

This year’s Showcase takes place Nov. 12 at the McMaster Innovation Park. The event will feature:

poster competition for inventions and discoveries with commercial potential; a round table highlighting trends in entrepreneurship, community engagement and innovation models that can enhance collaborations between the university, industry and community; innovator and patent awards; “open doors” at the McMaster Innovation Park and CANMET; a keynote from Mike Kirkup, Director of the VeloCity program at the University of Waterloo; as well as the all-important networking opportunities  for entrepreneurs, industry and government representatives, and academic researchers who are developing and commercializing new technologies.

“We’re taking this opportunity to connect the innovative ideas and research of McMaster faculty and students to people who are equally passionate about transforming ideas and services,” said  Yuyitung.

“MILO has become increasingly involved with our student entrepreneurs and at this year’s Lion’s Lair competition the top three places — which garnered the winners almost $140,000 in prize money — were start-ups that had received guidance and advice from MILO through different iterations of their product concepts.”

“Whether it’s students creating a unique app or novel product, or faculty who’ve developed a leading edge technology, McMaster is recognized as a high performing innovation hub,” said Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, Research and International Affairs.

“Gay Yuyitung has a clear vision of how she wants to lead MILO to ensure that McMaster’s enterprising research community is fully supported, from concept to commercialization. I’m so pleased she’s accepted the role of Executive Director and excited about McMaster’s future entrepreneurial initiatives.”

See the full article at Daily News McMaster.

Researcher’s night has a French twist

Solar cars, sustainable archeology and discussions from French researchers will be part of an upcoming Researchers’ Night at McMaster Innovation Park.

Everyone is welcome to the free event, dubbed “The Sustainable City,” on Oct. 25. Diverse research will be presented through open discussions, workshops and lectures. About 2,000 visitors and students are expected to attend.

“We want people to interact in a very open and friendly manner and break down some prejudice surrounding researchers,” said Florence Roullet, McMaster researcher.

The Sustainable City is being hosted in partnership with the French Consulate to encourage and develop collaborations between Canadian and French students and professors.

“We want to expose the beauty behind thinking about a topic and the process behind a researcher questioning their passions,” Roullet added.

The event has been running in Europe since 2006, and 11 towns in France are hosting it the same night.

“We’re trying to incorporate the same concept in Canada,” says Roullet.

“It’s a bit of an adventure.”

Read the full article at the Hamilton Spectator

McMaster brings wave of water experts to town

Hamilton, Burlington and Toronto have all been hit by major floods.

Toledo, Ohio, residents went without municipal water for days earlier this year, when their water turned toxic after a massive algae bloom in Lake Erie.

Droughts are devastating farmers in the southern United States.

“Climate change is happening now,” said Dustin Garrick, a professor at McMaster University, as the school was preparing to welcome some of the world’s top water experts for a week-long conference in Hamilton.

Hundreds of experts are tackling water-related issues, such as climate change, global public health and social and economic development, as part of McMaster’s first Water Week, which started Monday and wraps up Friday.

Garrick, who is the university’s Philomathia Foundation professor in water policy and research, said the lectures and workshops are open to the public.

Part of the goal of Water Week is to raise public awareness.

“We are dealing with unprecedented climate change,” he said. “It’s happening so fast, the past is no longer a guide to what may happen in the future.”

Garrick joined McMaster in January to launch the Water Network, after working at the University of Oxford in Britain on water policy and climate change adaptation in Australia and North America. Part of his goal at McMaster and across Ontario is to create a network of water researchers who may be doing related work, but have never exchanged ideas before.

The conference is held every September. Stockholm, Amsterdam and Singapore are among the previous host cities.

For the full article, visit the Hamilton Spectator

Interactive lab explores music’s scientific potential

Before the iPod, the Sony Walkman or the home stereo system, music was something people made and experienced with other people.

The universal nature of music-making, which occurs in every culture throughout the ages, suggests evolution may have wired us for it, and that the survival benefit it confers has something to do with the way social groups cohere. But such ideas are speculative and the social dimension of music remains largely unexplored.

Now, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton are aiming to change that with an $8-million facility unique in the world. The novel laboratory they’ve created will explore the interactive side of music-making with an unprecedented rigour – and it will serve as a tool for a wide range of other research applications from engineering better hearing aids to optimizing presentations to better hold an audience’s attention.

“We expect to find all kinds of things that we just never dreamed of that are going on in these complex interactions,” said Laurel Trainor, a neuroscientist and director of the LIVELab (short for Large Interactive Virtual Environment), which officially opens its doors this week.

In essence, LIVElab is a conventional stage and seating area backed by a powerful combination of high-tech gadgetry for recording and cleverly manipulating the way entire groups of people experience music and other forms of performance or presentation. The sound system can be adjusted to simulate a range of acoustic environments from classrooms to cathedrals.

Although music originated as a social activity, scientific research on music and human cognition had tended to focus on individuals. This is largely because the subtle cues and reactions that occur among musicians as they perform – and between the musicians and their audiences – are difficult to capture in a controlled research setting.

Nearly a decade in the making, the facility was funded through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario government and McMaster. Nothing quite so ambitious has been tried before in the field of music studies and the research possibilities have experts taking notice.

“It’s really an extraordinary achievement,” said Katie Overy, of the Reid School of Music at the University of Edinburgh. “The attention to detail is evident in every inch of the design.”

Dr. Overy, currently a visiting professor at the University of Western Ontario where she is working on research related to musical learning, said she hopes to makes use of the lab for pilot studies.

Just entering the LIVELab is a sensory experience. The space is accessed through a “sound lock” which separates participants from the outside world. The room sits on rubber pads to reduce vibrations and is nested inside a suspended concrete shell, which blocks external noise down to a threshold of 10 decibels. Inside, oversized ductwork keeps air circulating without a sound.

In other words, it can be very, very quiet.

In its “off” setting, the room is also entirely dead. The walls and surfaces are designed to absorb sound, so that music and voices are swallowed up without any trace of an echo.

“It’s our blank slate,” Dr. Trainor said in the LIVELab earlier this month.

Then Dan Bosnyak, a research scientist and the lab’s technical director, brought the room to life with a few taps on an iPad. Suddenly an array of microphones and speakers located all around us were sensing and re-projecting our voices, adding a pleasant resonance that perfectly reproduced the experience of being in a small theatre or church.

Such tricks have been employed commercially to enhance the acoustics of various spaces. But in the LIVELab, the sound system is coupled with a battery of infrared cameras that can track performers and audience members in real time and digitize their body movements as they react to music and other stimuli. The lab also has the capacity to measure the brain waves of up to 30 participants at once through electroencephalography (EEG).

“The great thing about the LIVELab is that it’s very flexible. You can mould the space to fit the project,” said Matt Woolhouse, a faculty member at McMaster’s School of the Arts who is planning a study of dance therapy for Parkinson’s patients.

By its nature, the set up invites researchers to explore musical questions that have previously been inaccessible to science. For example, they can study how members of a jazz ensemble or a string quartet react to one another while a performance unfolds, or measure how much the physical expressiveness of a musician influences the way her music is perceived by an audience.

All of it involves the broader question of how human brains work together around a shared activity, which puts the lab at the cutting edge of social cognitive science.

“The lab will undoubtedly become a major centre for inquiry in human thinking and behaviour,” said Robert Duke, director of the Center for Music Learning at the University of Texas at Austin.

For this reason, the space is also attracting interest from marketing and arts groups interested in what it can tell them about group experiences. Dr. Trainor said the lab would ideally be used for commercial projects about one-third of the time to help support its research activities.

“What this space really comes down to is studying interactions,” Dr. Trainor said.

In the process, it may finally reveal what compels humans to gather in groups and make music.

All together now.

See the full article at The Globe and Mail

Majority of Canadian med students come from 6 schools

When it comes to applying for medical school, competition can be fierce, and the question of which school to attend for a pre-med program can be a tough one. Maclean’s recently took a look at the first-year cohort attending Canada’s 14 English and bilingual medical schools to determine where the students had most recently studied, finding that a majority (78%) had attended an institution with a medical school on campus. More than half (52%) attended one of 6 schools—McMaster University, University of Toronto, Western University, McGill University, University of British Columbia, and University of Alberta.

Although these schools are known to be difficult, and therefore potentially one might graduate with a lower average, university administrators insist that they do not favour graduates from one school over another. Grades are making up less of the admissions criteria too, with things like MCAT performance, awards, past employment, volunteer activities, and other criteria rising in influence. The bottom line: students shouldn’t worry about avoiding the “hard schools,” but they also shouldn’t worry if they attend a smaller school, so long as they make sure to “round out their education with a rich resume.”

Check out the full article at MACLEANS.

New program trains biomedical scientists with business savvy

Applications are now being accepted for a unique McMaster program which offers students the opportunity to train in biomedical science and business at the same time.

Third-year students have until Oct. 22 to apply for January entry into the new Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization (BDC) Bachelor/Master’s program offered by the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Science with contributions by the DeGroote School of Business.

An information session will be held on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in MDCL 3020.

The program, open to students who have completed two years in science or health sciences, includes two years to finish an honours Bachelor of Health Sciences degree, followed by one year for the course-based master’s degree. The 12-month master’s program has a four-month internship in the health sciences sector.

Although the program begins in September 2015, an accelerated start has been arranged which will see about 15 students start in January 2015. Those students will be prepared to begin the fourth year of the program next fall.

“This is a multidisciplinary training program, concentrated in the biomedical sciences, which will produce graduates with strong discovery research skills, street smarts and business savvy,” said Eric Brown, director of the program and a professor of biochemistry and biomedical science.

“The career options and relevance of this program will be a lightning rod for students wanting an exciting future. We’ve met enthusiasm for this program from all, so we decided to get started right away.”

He said the program will be reaching out to the commercial health sciences sector for involvement as guest lecturers and community mentors.

Brown pointed to the current impact of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors on the Canadian economy, and their anticipated growth, adding: “These students will become Canada’s biomedical scientists who lead in discovery and commerce.”

Courses in the program range from drug discovery and development, and laboratory research skills to accounting for decision making and applied marketing. Innovative educational methods of experiential, inquiry and team-based learning approaches will be the hallmark of the program.

More information on the program, including how to apply, may be found at http://bdcprogram.mcmaster.ca/index.html

See the full article at McMaster Daily News.

Spectrum to help student entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life

Do you want to be your own boss?

If so, you’re about to get a boost from a new University entrepreneurship program.

Spectrum will help student entrepreneurs recruit team members, attract funds and connect with mentors.

The program will officially open Sept. 10 with a talk by engineering alumnus Matt Gardner, co-founder of Videostream.

The tech startup’s product wirelessly sends full HD video from your computer to your TV, and is used by more than 400,000 people.

“It all started in 7th grade,” Gardner says. “I realized that pop at Costco was half the price that it was in our school’s vending machine — so I filled my locker.”

Gardner continued to start small businesses throughout his time at McMaster, and after getting into software, says a tech startup “just made sense.”

In addition to alumni speakers like Gardner, Spectrum will also host an event with past participants of The Next 36, as well as how-to sessions on specific aspects of entrepreneurism.

In March, Spectrum will host a student startup competition, during which it plans to award $50,000 as well as in-kind resources.

The program’s kickoff event is scheduled for Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. at TwelvEighty Bar and Grill.

See more at Daily News McMaster.

City open to giving downtown parking lot for McMaster expansion

The city is willing to give up a downtown parking lot for McMaster University’s bid to expand and bring hundreds of new students and faculty to the core.

The latest city donation of land to the university, likely a parking parcel worth up to $3.2 million, will only happen if McMaster beats out other institutions in a competition for provincial expansion cash.

A detailed presentation from university president Patrick Deane helped win over councillors who had indignantly rejected a surprise motion last month that some called a “blindsiding” request for more municipal cash.

This term, council has already given $20 million toward a downtown Mac health campus and $4 million in land for a new bioresearch complex at the McMaster Innovation Park.

Deane apologized for the “premature” August request and encouraged councillors to see the benefits of adding to the growing “downtown hub” of university operations, including around 100 permanent staff and hundreds of new health and engineering students.

“This would bring considerable economic benefits to the city (despite) foregone tax revenues,” he said, referring to the fact universities don’t pay property taxes.

City staff identified three potential parking properties to donate, including one behind City Hall, another on Vine Street and one on John Street. The estimated property values range from $1.8 million to $3.2 million.

City manager Chris Murray assured councillors there would be “no net loss of parking” after construction is done.

Ward Councillor Jason Farr reminded council of its “mandate” for downtown revitalization. “This is a partnership; this is economic uplift.”

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator.

McMaster’s Success Bodes Well For Hamilton

We should all be celebrating the latest news that McMaster University has once again been ranked as one of the Top 100 universities in the world.

For the record, Mac is number 90, up two spots from last year.

If you think that McMaster’s high ranking only matters to students, you would be wrong.

In the old days, industry would locate where the raw materials existed for manufacturing.

Well, in the 21st century, the raw material that companies are looking for is knowledge, and these rankings show the world that McMaster and Hamilton are prime locations.

In fact, it’s already happening.

McMaster Innovation Park and the McMaster Automotive Research Centre are already attracting internationally renowned companies and researchers.

McMaster’s medical research teams are world class and the Business school is producing young, innovative entrepreneurs who are creating new companies and new jobs..

That’s why we should all be excited about McMaster and Mohawk and Redeemer and Columbia.

Our educational facilities are more than just great  institutions of learning; they’re a big part of  Hamilton’s economic future.

See the full article at 900CHML

McMaster moves up in world university rankings

An influential international ranking of the world’s universities has placed McMaster at number 90 among the world’s universities.

The Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities has moved McMaster up to No. 90 from 92 in 2013, making it one of just four Canadian schools in the Top 100, with the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill.

In total, the ranking placed 21 Canadian universities among the world’s top 500 institutions — a drop from 2013, when 23 Canadian institutions made the top 500.

There are an estimated 16,000 universities in the world.

“This ranking serves to confirm what other rankings have established over the years – that McMaster University is consistently considered to be among one of the best in Canada, and in the world,” said McMaster president Patrick Deane. “Only three other Canadian cities have a university in the Top 100.  It is certainly a strong way to help Hamilton build its national and global reputation and to attract innovators and new business opportunities to our city.”

Among the specific results, McMaster’s Social Sciences programs ranked 48th worldwide.

Since 2003, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Center for World-Class Universities has released an annual ranking of the world’s top 500 universities. The ranking is based on an assessment of each university’s quality of education, faculty and research output.

A few of the many reasons that McMaster makes the grade:

McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research is one of only a few such centres in the world.

Canada’s most influential scientist is a professor at McMaster. Salim Yusuf is a professor of cardiology and head of the Population Health Research Institute. This year he was named winner of the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for outstanding contributions to medical research.

McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine created problem-based learning and evidence-based medicine, which have been adopted at medical schools around the world.

McMaster research nuclear reactor is one of the world’s largest suppliers of the medical radioisotope iodine-125, used for the treatment of prostate cancer. The reactor is also used to inspect the turbine blades of almost all jetliners in North America.

The McMaster Automotive Resource Centre is developing technology to make cars more efficient and safer, bringing investment and jobs to Hamilton.

See the full article at Daily News McMaster