How to take innovation from concept to practice

By David Callele, President, Experience First Design Inc.

An effective innovation process begins by clearly identifying a problem or unmet need then formulating a proposed solution. But transforming that proposed solution into a real solution can be very challenging. I operate a game development studio, Experience First Design, where in addition to making games, we also perform research into the complex nature of game rules. Games and tournaments are no fun if there is a perfect winning strategy, and we’re researching how you can make a game more challenging and interesting by changing the rules. Our ultimate goal is to develop new methods to make game tournaments more interesting and robust, and then take these methods to market.

To reach this goal, we’ve been able to tap the research expertise of a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Saskatchewan. The student from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics is helping us understand how game outcomes can change when new rules are introduced. Our research project uses intelligent virtual players to determine the effects of the new rules on the games, searching for unexpected consequences of our proposed rule changes.

We found this student through the Mitacs Accelerate program. Adding a highly qualified Mitacs-sponsored researcher to a project can really help a company take an innovation from concept to practice. The program delivers tangible benefits, including new knowledge and capabilities that significantly advance our research and development.

The financial support through matched research funding has also been crucial to our startup – we’re looking to hire five more people full time over the next two years if we can successfully get our project to market. 

Then there are the indirect benefits. The most important for us has been the ability to develop relationships with faculty and students at the university. These relationships help companies stay current with leading-edge technologies accessible through universities. The graduate students and their faculty supervisors provide a different perspective on our work and we have an opportunity to evaluate the graduate students as potential future employees of our company. Knowing whether or not the student has the right attitude and skill sets before making a hiring decision also reduces the risk associated with making the wrong choice.

We’re looking to take our research even further by taking on a Mitacs Elevate Ph.D. Fellow for two years, giving us a senior researcher over a longer term. By strengthening our team in this manner we hope to accelerate our progress toward becoming a world-leader in our area.

Has your company used Mitacs Accelerate to overcome a research challenge? Let us know in the comment section below. Or are you looking for solutions to your innovation challenges? Contact Mitacs to find out how we can help.


Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to our most pressing problems. By driving economic growth and productivity, we create meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.