Award-winning innovation training program expands nationally

Jun 01, 2020

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Finlay MacNab, alumnus of the i2I program and a current PhD candidate in SFU’s Department of Chemistry

Aspiring scientist and technology entrepreneurs across Canada can now access SFU Beedie’s ground-breaking skills training program, Invention to Innovation (i2I). The announcement follows the successful completion of a pilot program offering the program in British Columbia and Alberta in partnership with Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving challenges with research solutions from the best academic institutions.

The i2I Mitacs Skills Training Pilot is based on the i2I Graduate Certificate in Science & Technology Commercialization, which won international recognition earlier this year after being highlighted among the annual Innovations That Inspire named by AACSB International (AACSB)—the world’s largest business education network. Applications are now open by emailing for the expanded program that will reach nationally, offering valuable innovation skills to participants anywhere in Canada.

“In times of crisis, such as this pandemic, innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers are needed more than ever, so at SFU we are delighted to be partnering with Mitacs in bringing this innovation skills training to talented and motivated scientists and engineers,” says Joy Johnson, SFU ‘s vice-president, research and international.

On May 23, 2020, the i2I Mitacs Skills Training Pilot culminated with a closing session and final pitch event—delivered virtually, owing to restrictions around COVID-19—with winning student Ada Leung receiving a $1,000 prize sponsored by SFU’s Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship.

Leung’s innovation involves the use of computer modeling and AI technologies to design nanomedicines, creating treatments that are safe and effective by delivering effective doses of the drug to the disease site while minimizing side effects to other parts of the body.

“The Mitacs/SFU i2I program helped me appreciate how the creativity and resilience we have for science can be applied to building a venture that solves real life problems as an entrepreneur,” says Leung.

“Winning the pitch competition gave me confidence that with the right scientist-entrepreneurial mindset and communication skills, we can bring inventions to market to make a positive impact for others. The i2I program I find really helps launch a scientist-entrepreneur’s journey.”

In an intense final event, with high-quality presentations from six finalists including Ohoud Alharbi, Tyler Cuthbert, Zenan Jiang, Sina Radmard and Mohita Sharma, Leung was judged the winner by a panel of recognized leaders in science and technology entrepreneurship:

  • Catherine Chick, Chief Information Officer, Mitacs
  • Colin Harris, Founding Partner, CDL-West | Co-founder, PMC-Sierra
  • Ridha Ben-Mrad, Chief Research Officer, Associate Academic Director, Mitacs
  • Shannon Bard, Global Director of Innovation, Hemmera & Ausenco
  • Bruce Schmidt, Director, WUTIF Angel Fund