Bright Ideas, Smart Business Spur Innovation

Two young Nova Scotia researchers are getting help from businesses to turn their smart ideas into better health care and better products.

Olga Hrytsenko and Marek Lipczak, both completing post-doctoral fellowships at Dalhousie University, are the first Nova Scotia recipients of the Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship program.

Mitacs brings business and top researchers together to meet business challenges and increase entrepreneurship.

“Nova Scotia is home to some of the brightest minds and best universities in the world,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett. “It makes sense to connect great people and universities with smart business people and bring new products to market that create good jobs and more opportunities for Nova Scotians.”

Under the program, researchers apply their work to real-world challenges, while receiving hands-on leadership and management training, and providing businesses with access to specialized expertise.

“This program allows recent PhD graduates to explore the process of advancing basic academic research from bench to bedside,” said Ms. Hrytsenko. “It combines the creativity of scientific research with real application that produces real results.”

Ms. Hrytsenko is working with Immunovaccine Inc. to identify cancer types and stages with the highest levels of survivin, a cancer-associated protein. The goal of the project is to improve cancer research.

“It is programs like this for outstanding graduate students that will help us produce the next generation of innovators and align them with businesses ready to test these ideas and bring them to market,” said Martha Crago, vice-president of research with Dalhousie University.

Mr. Lipczak’s research involves automatic document tagging for easy access to volumes of material. His project is being conducted with 2nd Act Innovations Inc., and focuses on improving product development.

“To build a strong, knowledge-based economy, we need to provide opportunities for highly skilled PhDs to apply their research to key business challenges, while ensuring they have the business and entrepreneurship skills they need to succeed in their careers,” said Arvind Gupta, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs.

Participants in the province’s first Innovation Summit, wrapping up in Halifax today, are discussing how better connections among institutions and groups can spur innovation. The goal of the summit is to foster innovation and opportunities, creating more good jobs for Nova Scotians.

The province is contributing $50,000 a year for two years to the Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship program. The federal government and participating companies match the province’s contribution.