Award-winning entrepreneur training program celebrates inaugural year and expands
Vancouver, BC — Mitacs and the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University (SFU Beedie) have renewed a partnership to offer the Invention to Innovation (i2I) program for graduate students.
Over seven months, i2I Skills Training equips participants with the frameworks, perspectives, and techniques to develop an innovation mindset and commercialize their inventions while overcoming marketplace challenges.
Created by SFU Beedie, the program recently won international recognition after AACSB International — the world’s largest business education network — highlighted the new program among its annual Innovations That Inspire.
Building upon the successful i2I curriculum, which Beedie founded in 2015 as a for-credit graduate certificate, Mitacs and SFU Beedie piloted a non-credit i2I Skills Training program in 2019. Skills Training is a hybrid online model that allows entrepreneurial-minded graduate students across Canada to make a real-world impact with their scientific inventions.
The program’s first cohort comprised 16 participants, including current and former Mitacs interns based in British Columbia, who concluded the course in May after pitching their ventures to a panel of judges. Now, i2I Skills Training will be offered to participants in both Pacific and Eastern time zones thanks to a collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University, which will act as the delivery partner for the East cohort.
Participants in the program attested to the transformational experience of i2I Skills Training, with 100% recommending it to their peers. Most notable was the vast increase in confidence in the cohort in their ability to create a commercialization strategy to take their inventions from lab to market.
Meet some of the program alumni:
- Ada Leung, Mitacs Elevate fellow 2017–19
“i2I forces you to think about your research by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. It had a permanent influence on how I consider research. Now, whenever someone gives me a suggestion or an idea, I think first about where that is going to go. It is definitely helping to shape the entrepreneurial mindset that we’ve been talking about, and I found that super helpful.”
- Angelo Lanzilotto, Mitacs Accelerate intern 2018–20
“The program is intense, but it’s worth it. It’s like an investment. You’re going to do it today and see what it’s going to bring you in the future. I would definitely encourage people to participate because we, as researchers, know our own world — the university, what our research looks like — but, when we finish our postdoc or PhD and go into the outside world, people speak a different language.”
- Sina Radmard, Mitacs Elevate fellow 2018–19
“The different modules of the program gave us a holistic view of what it takes to commercialize an idea. Apart from that, it also made me understand that you can still be a scientist and become an entrepreneur. What I knew beforehand was that you need to focus on the market and what the customer says and wants, but I learned you can also innovate in the lab and then try to find a space for your innovation.”
Applications for the 2020 i2I Skills Training program are now open. Visit beedie.sfu.ca/programs/executive-education/i2i-skills-training or contact email@example.com to learn more.
John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs
“We received great feedback and saw impressive progress in the entrepreneurial skills of the Mitacs interns and alumni that participated in the first cohort of i2I Skills Training. Now more than ever, scientists need to develop an innovative mindset as they propose solutions to the challenges brought by COVID-19, and i2I supports them with that. We couldn’t be prouder to renew this partnership with SFU’s Beedie School of Business and expand it to Ontario with the support of Queen’s University. We are grateful to the Government of Canada and the provinces for their support of this important initiative.”
Elicia Maine, PhD, Academic Director, Invention to Innovation (i2I); W.J. VanDusen Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Special Advisor on Innovation to the VP Research, SFU
“Science innovation and entrepreneurship research indicate that universities are increasingly central to breakthrough invention, but that university researchers face substantial barriers to getting such inventions out to solve pressing global problems such as climate change and disease. SFU is delighted to be partnering with Mitacs and Queen’s in developing an entrepreneurial mindset in researchers developing breakthrough inventions in fields such as chemistry, physics and biomedical engineering.”
Kevin Deluzio, PhD, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University
“Queen’s Engineering is excited to have the opportunity to support the expansion of SFU’s i2I program across Canada. While innovative research and programming continue to expand at Queen’s, we are aware of the extra challenges in commercializing technologies in STEM and healthcare. The i2I program will help develop an entrepreneurial mindset and equip participants with the ability to commercialize their inventions, which will contribute significantly to our country’s science and technology sector.”
- Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions.
- Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the Government of Yukon.