Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Putting the focus on innovation, entrepreneurship

  • Principal Daniel Woolf speaks during the Principal's Community Breakfast held at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel, Tuesday, Nov. 10.
    Principal Daniel Woolf speaks during the Principal's Community Breakfast held at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel, Tuesday, Nov. 10.
  • The guest speakers at the Principal's Community Breakfast, were, from left, Natasha Baziuk, Venicio Rebelo and Shai Dubey.
    The guest speakers at the Principal's Community Breakfast, were, from left, Natasha Baziuk, Venicio Rebelo and Shai Dubey.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf speaks during the Principal's Community Breakfast held at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel, Tuesday, Nov. 10.
    Principal Daniel Woolf speaks during the Principal's Community Breakfast held at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel, Tuesday, Nov. 10.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf speaks during the Principal's Community Breakfast held at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel, Tuesday, Nov. 10.
    Principal Daniel Woolf speaks during the Principal's Community Breakfast held at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel, Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Mapping out a prosperous future path for Kingston and Queen’s was the focus of the Principal’s Community Breakfast held Tuesday, Nov. 10 at the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel.

With a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation for the event, Principal Daniel Woolf brought together members of the Kingston and Queen’s communities as well as a panel of special guests, each with their own connection to the university: Shai Dubey, Director, Queen’s full-time MBA and Distinguished Faculty Fellow, Smith School of Business; Natasha Baziuk, co-founder of Gryllies, the winning company from this year’s Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI); and Venicio Rebelo, former owner of two of Kingston’s largest hotels and conference centres.

Innovation initiatives at Queen’s take a number of forms, ranging from organized initiatives between faculties such as the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), through to courses or components of courses as well as weekend workshops and competitions (e.g., Queen’s Startup Summit, Queen’s Entrepreneurship Competition, Enactus). At the same time, Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative provides an important opportunity for students to develop a foundation for entrepreneurship and innovation, and an opportunity to put these concepts into practice, while PARTEQ supports innovation through supporting commercialization and transfer of Intellectual Property at Queen’s.

Each speaker offered a different perspective regarding business and the Kingston economy that drew the attention of the more than 100 people attending the event.

Ms. Baziuk (Sc’15) spoke about the challenges faced by Gryllies and the support it has received.

While the start-up was created in a low-risk environment, receiving support from Queen’s, Innovation Park and the City of Kingston through KEDCO, she says there remains room for growth. She pointed to a number of business incubators and accelerators that are based in major centres that draw young entrepreneurs away from smaller communities like Kingston.

But she also saw an opportunity for Kingston due to its location and the resources available.

“What I think Kingston could potentially do is, we’re in such a strategic location in terms of being close to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, that Kingston itself would be a great location to start the next incubator-accelerator program with the university connection as well as an already-established innovation sector,” she says. “I think it will not only keep talent in the Kingston area but also attract talent elsewhere into our community.”

Mr. Dubey, as the founder of Quicklaw, a leading provider of legal online database services to the legal profession, also spoke about the entrepreneurial experience. Through his work at the Smith School of Business he also sees the strength of the Queen’s learning experience, using Ms. Baziuk as an example.

“Why are we different? Because we are teaching our people like Natasha to think, to be critical thinkers, to be able to take ideas and then put them into practice,” he says.

He also sees much potential for the Kingston economy.

“The opportunity is here, we just need to plug into that opportunity as we go. And we do,” he says. “We have world-class institutions, we have great assets here but how do we take advantage of them?”

 Infrastructure is a key in attracting and keeping people in Kingston says Mr. Rebelo, a Queen’s graduate as well. He says he has seen the community grow in a number of ways and pointed to recent improvements that have provided a boost to the city and Queen’s.

“What has been really beneficial for the city is the development of the infrastructure of the city itself – the reconstruction of Princess Street, the development of the downtown, the rebuilding of Market Square, putting a skating rink there, the development of the Rogers K-Rock Centre, the Invista Centre, the K&P Trail – all those things are so critical to bring visitors to our town,” he says.

The positive impressions of the community will remain with the visitors, who will then help spread the word about Kingston and Queen’s and bring them back as well, he adds.

In kicking off the breakfast, Principal Daniel Woolf provided an update on Queen’s to the many community leaders in attendance.

Principal Woolf highlighted recent accomplishments such as the $50-million donation to the university from Stephen J.R. Smith and the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy).

He also highlighted that the key areas of the Strategic Framework, including internationalization, continue to guide the university forward and help bring the Kington and Queen’s communities together.

“I and other members of the administration regularly travel abroad to raise Queen’s and Kingston’s profile internationally, to recruit students and faculty members and to sign partnerships that will allow student exchanges and research partnerships,” Principal Woolf says. “And from Queen’s perspective one major area of interest is providing a welcoming environment and community for international faculty and students. We are eager to work with the city and community partners to strengthen our capacity to welcome newcomers and help them integrate fully into the community.”