Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Award-winning app tells story of Sir John A

An innovative new smartphone app provides information about locations of significance to Sir John A Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister. Visitors and locals can celebrate Sir John A’s January 11 birthday by visiting some of his favourite Kingston haunts at their leisure.

 “We wanted people to be able to take the tour on their own time, at their own pace,” says Isabel Barrera (Artsci'12), who worked with two commerce and two engineering students on the app. “Eventually we want to create an app that enables local people to create their own tour so visitors can explore Kingston through the eyes of a local.”

Ms Barrera worked with Kurtis Hodge (Commerce), Irfan Sharif (Finance), Andrew Ironside (Chemical Engineering) and Mike Robinson (Mechanical Engineering).

Ms Barrera and her colleagues launched the app and their new company, Queen’s-based Moja Labs this summer. It was one of five student-based companies founded through the 16-week Queen’s Summer Innovative Institute (QSII). The new program is sponsored by the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), an initiative created to fuel discovery and cultivate new ideas at Queen’s.

“I would never have met the people I did to start this company without QSII,” says Ms Barrera. “It was a great opportunity to work with people from other disciplines and the resources provided by the program were invaluable. I think Canada needs more entrepreneurship.”

Also in the works for Moja Labs is a virtual travel guide app that can provide information about worldwide locations tailored to the travellers' interests. Upon arriving in Beijing, China, for example, a visitor could launch the app and discover restaurants, parks or museums in their exact location.

“Our vision for QSII was to deliver an intensive three-month experiential learning experience that would allow Queen's undergrad students to apply their world-renowned initiative and creativity," says Greg Bavington, Executive Director, Queen's Innovation Connector. "We hoped to see projects that demonstrated entrepreneurial, corporate and social innovation – and we certainly weren’t disappointed. Moja Labs is a great example of an entrepreneurial venture that is creating real economic activity, right here in Kingston.”

QIC is running another 16-week paid summer internship in 2013 for students interested in entrepreneurial, corporate or social innovation. Visit the newly-created QIC website for details.