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The Conversation: Sometimes the best move is the one you don’t make

File 20180528 90281 xhm6xd.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni, during Game 2 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in Houston. D'Antoni successfully resisted calls to change his team’s offensive strategy after losing Game 1.

“Defiant Rockets rewarded for ignoring calls for change.” That was one of the top headlines on ESPN following the recovery by the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals. Despite a barrage of criticism directed at the team’s offensive strategy after a lopsided loss in Game 1, the Rockets stayed the course. And it paid off.[The Conversation]

After a tough 119-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors two nights before, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni could have gone back to the drawing board and changed the offensive game plan. After all, that is what critics expected he would do to put the team in a more competitive position in Game 2.

But D’Antoni, like many basketball coaches, knows that sometimes the best move is no move at all.

D’Antoni’s decision not to change the isolation-heavy offence that led his team to the top of the Western Conference during the regular season is what I call “competitive forbearance,” a purposeful decision not to act when key decision-makers have opportunity and capability to do so.

Competitive forbearance is also an important strategic decision in the business world.

Competitive forbearance in business

Competitive dynamics, a stream of strategic management research, addresses fundamental questions in strategy: How firms behave and why firms perform differently.

Studies in this area have mainly focused on how competitive aggressiveness — the propensity to carry out a large number of competitive actions — increases a firm’s performance. Firms that fail to act frequently appear unenterprising or “passive,” which can diminish performance.

Little attention has been paid to the possible benefits of purposeful decisions not to act.

Mutual forbearance theory suggests multimarket rivals choose competitive forbearance to prevent unnecessary losses associated with escalating rivalry across several markets.

However, multimarket contact is just one situation in which forbearance is preferable to action. Savvy firms use forbearance to outmanoeuvre rivals in a variety of competitive situations.

For example, Apple decided not to integrate Adobe’s Flash Player into the iPhone and the iPad. As a result, Adobe withdrew its Flash Player from the Android mobile operating system of Apple’s arch enemy, Google, and chose to refocus its efforts around the emerging HTML5 standard. This suggests that Apple’s forbearance was the right choice despite being heavily criticized at the time.

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in 2007, Apple made a conscious decision not to allow it to work with Adobe’s Flash Player. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
 

I was part of a research project that explored the antecedents and consequences of competitive forbearance in the basketball coaching setting. Our research findings show that it has a significant impact on competitive rivalry.

How forbearance improves performance

In basketball, coaches make a wide range of forbearance decisions — not replacing players who are in foul trouble, not calling timeouts when teams are underperforming and not responding to opponents’ changes in offensive or defensive strategies.

In fact, 30 post-game interviews with nine coaches regarding their strategic decisions in 15 basketball games in the division one men’s basketball league of the FIBA–Europe revealed 673 competitive acts and 143 competitive forbearances. In other words, 17 per cent of all considered competitive moves were purposefully not executed. Competitive forbearance varied systematically across coaches.

The reasons basketball coaches choose to forbear can vary, from waiting for the full benefits of previous decisions to materialize to increasing players’ confidence — or in the case of D’Antoni, avoiding moves inconsistent with the team’s existing strategy and providing an opportunity for players to learn from experience. It was the right call — the Rockets went on to win 127-105 in Game 2.

Although competitive forbearance can improve team performance by expanding the range of strategic maneuvers and by making competitive behaviours less predictable, coaches are more prone to act than to forbear. Why is that? Two key factors are stakeholder pressure and coaching confidence.

Not acting attracts criticism

Owners, journalists, analysts, fans and players often assume that not taking action indicates incompetence and a lack of coaching skills. Thus, the norm is to act and forbearance is a violation of the norm.

The negative outcomes associated with forbearance are judged more harshly than the negative outcomes of actions. The effects of this pressure are especially evident in the last two minutes of the game, where our study revealed competitive forbearance was 62 per cent less likely to occur.

Not all coaches succumb to stakeholder pressure. More accomplished coaches had 42 per cent higher odds of forbearing. We also found the coaches who were confident about winning the game were over two and half times more likely to forbear. D’Antoni’s regular-season record with the Rockets — 65 wins in 82 games — would indicate a certain amount of confidence in the team’s odds of success.

When key decision-makers actively use forbearance, they consider a wide range of plots to outcompete rivals. They are also less predictable to rivals because they forbear when rivals expect action.

Despite its unique advantages, competitive forbearance is not in the toolkit of many basketball coaches. Only more accomplished and confident coaches are more likely to use competitive forbearance, which in turn, increases team performance.

And how did it work out for the Houston Rockets? D’Antoni kept firm to his forbearance decision throughout the Western final — he did not change the team’s offensive strategy. But a collapse in the second half of Game 7 led to a Golden State victory. If the Rockets did not lose Chris Paul when they were up 3-2 after five games, they might have been in the finals.

The ConversationIndeed, it is not one decision, but a series of decisions that can increase or decrease performance. Forbearances increased the chances of success, but it is a combination of actions and forbearances that is critical for winning.

Goce Andrevski, is an Associate Professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Strategy at Smith School of Business.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 3

The two biggest ceremonies of Spring Convocation are hosted in the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre.

  • Chancellor and graduate
    Chancellor Jim Leech helps a graduate find her family as they pose for a photo during the morning Spring Convocation on Tuesday, May 29.
  • Garduates saluting parents and friends
    Graduands in the life sciences and biochemistry programs salute those who have supported them throughout their studies during Tuesday's Spring Convocation ceremony.
  • Crowd for the sixth spring convocation ceremony
    Graduates sit across the aisle from their family and friends in the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre.
  • Double hooding during sixth ceremony of Spring Convocation
    A pair of graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science are hooded as they receive their Bachelor of Science degrees on Tuesday.
  • Graduate takes a selfie while waiting in line
    A graduate of the Bachelor of Commerce program takes a selfie as he waits to take to the stage during Tuesday afternoon's convocation ceremony.
  • Family and friends watch the seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation
    Family and friends watch the seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation, which featured the graduates of the Smith School of Business commerce program.
  • Double hooding during seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation
    A pair of commerce graduates are hooded at the same time during the seventh ceremony of Spring Convocation on Tuesday afternoon.
  • Graduates of the Smith School of Business commerce program fill the main gym
    Tuesday afternoon's Spring Convocation ceremony was held in the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre so that the entire commerce Class of 2018 could graduate together.

The Class of 2018 returned to the stage on Tuesday with the sixth and seventh ceremonies of Spring Convocation being held at the main gym of the Athletics and Recreation Centre.

The change of venue allows the entire graduating class of the Smith School of Business commerce program to graduate together in the afternoon ceremony. The morning ceremony featured graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Science’s biochemistry and life sciences programs, along with degree recipients from the School of Graduate Studies.

Spring convocation continues on Wednesday with two ceremonies being held at Grant Hall at 10 am and 2:30 pm.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Turning entrepreneurial dreams into reality

Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing'Dare to Dream program provides support for businesses launched by recent graduates of the Smith School of Business.

[Dare to Dream program winners]
Dare to Dream recipients Rizma Butt (MMIE'17) and Hakeem Subair (MMIE'17) talk about their venture, 1 Million Teachers, on The Morning Show on CKWS. (Supplied Photo)

From machine learning that helps restaurant owners fill seats, to an online platform that transforms teachers into lifelong learners, four businesses launched by recent Smith School of Business graduates are furthering their growth with support from Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing’s (QCBV) Dare to Dream program.

The Dare to Dream program provides critical resources to help Smith students and new alumni turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. Through the financial support of several alumni and corporate donors, each recipient is provided up to $15,000 in funding, office space and access to mentoring to help their new ventures succeed.

“Dare to Dream is about increasing the odds of success and inspiring entrepreneurial dreams,” says JP Shearer, Associate Director of QCBV. “By providing early stage ventures with the necessary support and resources to turn their plans into reality, Dare to Dream ensures entrepreneurs can continue to work on their businesses.”  

This year’s recipients are:

Kyle Brykman (PhD’18)
TalentFit – CIBC Dare to Dream

TalentFit, founded by Kyle Brykman, Mitch Gudgeon (MBA’13), and Lykaio Wang, matches job applicants to companies based on “culture-fit.” By combining academic research on organizational culture, and through machine learning and artificial intelligence, TalentFit helps job seekers find companies that are culturally compatible based on markers such as core values. 

Rizma Butt (MMIE’17) and Hakeem Subair (MMIE’17)
1 Million Teachers (1MT) – QCBV Dare to Dream

An online education program first launched in Nigeria, 1 Million Teachers is based on the idea that a major reason students underachieve is a lack of education among teachers. 1MT offers online learning for teachers through a rewards-based development program that encourages teachers and their schools to get on board. The program is now expanding to other sub-Saharan countries.

Leanna Li (Com’18)
Mia Technologies – RLS Foundation Dare to Dream

Mia Technologies, co-founded by Leanna and Eddie Wang, utilizes machine learning to ensure restaurants are at full capacity throughout the day. Mia is a reservation booking platform that lets restaurants set discounts in 30-minute windows based on their traffic. Lower discounts are offered during peak times, and higher discounts, during off-peak hours. 

Tyler Whitney (Com’17, Artsci’18)
Spectra Plasmonics — Battat-Steffensen Dare to Dream

Tyler Whitney and co-founders Christian Baldwin (Sc’18), Malcolm Eade (Artsci’18), and Yusuf Ahmed (Sc’19), created a patent-pending technology that provides quicker, more accurate and cost-effective chemical detection. Their vision for SpectraPlasmonics is to take quality chemical detection out of the lab and into the field for professions such as law enforcement and food safety.

This article was first published on the Smith School of Business website.

Spring Convocation 2018 - Day 2

Honorary degree conferred upon Isabel Bassett as three ceremonies are hosted at Grant Hall.

  • Molly Raffan, is hugged by her father James Raffan
    Molly Raffan, a graduate of the Professional Master of Education program, is hugged by her father James Raffan, a former professor at Queen's. (University Communications)
  • MBA wave
    A graduate of the Master of Business Administration program waves as she is hooded during the morning Spring Convocation ceremony on Friday, May 25. (University Communications)
  • Russell Evans and Daniel Woolf
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf shakes hands with Russell Evans after he received his PhD in Management during Friday morning's Convocation ceremony. (University Communications)
  • A Master of Business Administration graduate and Chancellor Jim Leech.
    A Master of Business Administration graduate points out her family as she is congratulated by Chancellor Jim Leech. (University Communications)
  • Video with cellphone
    A family member takes a quick photo from the balcony of Grant Hall during the afternoon convocation ceremony Friday at Grant Hall. (University Communications)
  • A pair of graduates from the Smith School of Business Master of Business Administration program are hooded
    A pair of graduates from the Smith School of Business Master of Business Administration program are hooded Friday at Grant Hall. (University Communications)
  • Isabel Bassett, Honorary degree recipient
    Isabel Bassett speaks to the gathered graduates after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's during the fifth ceremony of convocation. (University Communications)
  • Ashley Keays, Master of Public Administration
    Ashley Keays, a graduate of the Master of Public Administration program, receives a blanket from Laura Maracle, Aboriginal Cultural Safety Coordinator at the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. (University Communications)

Spring convocation continued on Friday, with three more ceremonies being held at Grant Hall.

The highlight of the day was the conferring of an honorary degree (LLD) upon Isabel Bassett, former chair and CEO of TVOntario, Member of Provincial Parliament, Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

The day’s ceremonies involved graduate programs from the Smith School of Business, as well as the Faculty of Education and School of Graduate Studies.

No ceremonies are being held on Monday, May 28. Two ceremonies will be hosted on Tuesday, May 29.

Live ceremony feeds will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each ceremony.

full schedule of the ceremonies and more information about Spring Convocation, for graduates, parents and family, as well as faculty members, is available on the Office of the University Registrar website.

Closing the c-suite diversity gap

The Smith School of Business is launching new executive leadership programs for LGBTQ+ leaders, newcomers to Canada, and more. 

[Erin LeBlanc and Tina Dacin]
Erin LeBlanc (left) and Tina Dacin (right) are two of the minds behind this executive leadership program. (University Communications)

In the coming years, the Smith School of Business will unveil a series of programs aimed at fostering diversity in the corporate boardrooms and executive offices across the country. 

The first such program launches this October, and is designed specifically for senior business professionals who identify as LGBTQ+.  

“Many LGBTQ+ business people shield their identities in the workplace,” says Tina Dacin, Stephen J. R. Smith Chair of Strategy & Organizational Behavior, and Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Smith Business School. “While significant strides have been made in LGBTQ+ acceptance in Canada, there are still barriers to senior leadership roles for members of the community. Our hope is that all of these programs will support leaders as they embrace and apply their full identities at work.” 

According to the Canadian Board Diversity Council’s 2017 Annual Report Card, the number of respondents who self-identify as LGBTQ serving on Financial Post 500 boards decreased from 2.1% in 2016 to 1.6% in 2017. The LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program aims to help turn the dial and speed up progress in this area by increasing the talent pool in this category of diversity. 

Offered by Smith’s Centre for Social Impact at the SmithToronto learning facility, this five-day program is intended to help individuals strengthen their leadership impact and work with confidence and authenticity. The five days will include speaker presentations, group discussion, exercises, and opportunities for self-reflection. Completing this course can also help students attain their Certificate in Social Impact for Professionals from Smith.

The LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program is the first of its kind in Canada, and was inspired by a similar program offered by Stanford University. There are 30 spaces available in this inaugural offering, and Dr. Dacin says interest has been strong. 

Erin LeBlanc is an Adjunct Lecturer with Smith School of Business, and will be one of the faculty in this leadership program. She was a part of the program design committee, and will be presenting on the diversity of communication, thinking, and problem solving styles. 

“As a member of one of the communities that is the focus of this program, I would have loved to take a program like this had it been available before,” says Ms. LeBlanc. “People are concerned about being their authentic selves at work for fear of reducing their upward mobility, and we hope this program will help them bring their whole selves to work without compromise.” 

In the coming years, the Smith Centre for Social Impact will also be launching programming for women in leadership, Indigenous leaders, and newcomers to Canada. 

To apply to the LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program or to learn more, visit ssb.ca/diversity.  

Honorary degrees for spring ceremonies

The presentation of honorary degrees is one of the many traditions of convocation. This spring, seven recipients will be honored during the ceremonies. All recipients were selected by Queen’s community members for their contributions to the local community, Canadian society, or the world.

The honorary degree recipients this year include:

Phil Gold, Doctor of Science DSc

[Phil Gold]
Phil Gold

Ceremony 2: Thursday, May 24 at 2:30 pm

Phil Gold is the Executive Director of the Clinical Research Centre of the McGill University Health Centre at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) and the Douglas G. Cameron Professor of Medicine and Professor of Physiology and Oncology at McGill University. He has served as the Inaugural Director of the Goodman Cancer Centre, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at McGill, and Physician-in-Chief at the MGH.

Dr. Gold’s early research led to the discovery and definition of the Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA), and the subsequent CEA blood test. In 2006, the Phil Gold Chair in Medicine was inaugurated at McGill University. Dr. Gold was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2010, and also received the Life Time Achievement Award from McGill University and the inaugural McGill University Faculty of Medicine Global Achievement Award in 2011.

Dr. Gold has received national and international recognition throughout his career, including the Gairdner Foundation Annual International Award (1978), Medizinische Hochschule, Germany (1978), the Johann-Georg-Zimmerman Prize for Cancer Research (1978), the Isaak Walton Killam Award in Medicine of the Canada Council (1985), the National Cancer Institute of Canada R.M. Taylor Medal (1992), the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal (2002), and many other accolades, including honorary degrees from a number of universities.

Isabel Bassett, Doctor of Laws LLD

[Isabel Bassett]
Isabel Bassett

Ceremony 5: Friday, May 25 at 4 pm.

Professionally, Isabel Bassett was Chair and CEO of TVOntario, MPP and Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation for the Ontario Government, and host and producer of award winning documentaries on CFTO TV, which focused on social issues such as sexual abuse, mental health, and teen gangs.

Now retired, Ms. Bassett is a facilitator using her know-how and connections to work for gender parity. She advocates to get young people more involved in politics and for more diversity on boards and in senior management positions. She is now adding her voice in support of the McMichael Gallery to awaken the public to Canada's little known treasure house of Canadian Art.

Indira Samarasekera, Doctor of Science DSc

[Indira Samarasekera]
Indira Samarasekera

Ceremony 12: Thursday, May 31 at 4 pm

Indira Samarasekera served as the twelfth President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alberta from 2005 to 2015. She also served as Vice-President (Research) at the University of British Columbia from 2000 to 2005. She is currently a Senior Advisor for Bennett Jones LLP and serves on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Nova Scotia, Magna International, and TransCanada. Dr. Samarasekera was appointed by the Prime Minister to serve as a Federal Member to the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments until 2017.

Dr. Samarasekera is internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading metallurgical engineers for her ground-breaking work on process engineering of materials, especially steel processing. Dr. Samarasekera was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002 for outstanding contributions to steel process engineering. In 2014, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in the US, the profession’s highest honour.

As a Hays Fulbright Scholar, she earned an MSc from the University of California in 1976 and a PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of British Columbia in 1980. She has received honorary degrees from the Universities of British Columbia, Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, and from Western University in Canada, as well as Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland.

Valerie Tarasuk, Doctor of Science DSc

[Valerie Tarasuk]
Valerie Tarasuk

Ceremony 13: Friday, June 1 at 10 am

Valerie Tarasuk is a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Tarasuk’s research includes Canadian food policy and population-level dietary assessment, but much of her career has focused on income-related problems of food access in Canada. She played a pivotal role in the implementation of food insecurity monitoring in Canada and has helped spearhead efforts to use monitoring data to inform programming and policy decisions. Dr. Tarasuk has led PROOF, an interdisciplinary research program investigating household insecurity in Canada, since 2011. In 2017, Dr. Tarasuk was honored by the Canadian Nutrition Society with the Earle Willard McHenry Award for Distinguished Service in Nutrition.

John Baird, Doctor of Law LLD

[John Baird]
John Baird

Ceremony 14: Friday, June 1 at 2:30 pm

John Baird served as a senior cabinet minister in the Government of Canada. Mr. Baird spent three terms as a Member of Parliament and four years as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also served as President of the Treasury Board, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. In 2010, he was selected by MPs from all parties as Parliamentarian of the Year. He is currently a Senior Business Advisor with Bennett Jones LLP.

An instrumental figure in bilateral trade and investment relationships, Mr. Baird has played a leading role in the Canada-China dialogue and worked to build ties with Southeast Asian nations.

Mr. Baird holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies from Queen’s. He volunteers his time with Community Living Ontario, the Prince's Charities, and is a board member of the Friends of Israel Initiative.

Hugh Segal, Doctor of Law LLD

[Hugh Segal]
Hugh Segal

Ceremony 15: Monday, June 4 at 10 am

Now the fifth elected Principal of Massey College and a strategic advisor at the law firm of Aird and Berlis, LLP, Hugh Segal has spent his career in such public service roles as the Associate Cabinet Secretary (Federal-Provincial Affairs) in Ontario and the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister.  In Ontario, he was involved in the negotiations to patriate the Canadian constitution and create the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Mr. Segal chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism between 2005 and 2014.  He served as Canada's Special Envoy to the Commonwealth and a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on reform and modernization, human rights, and rule of law.

A former President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Montreal, a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs, the Queen's School of Policy Studies, and the Smith School of Business at Queen's, Mr. Segal holds honorary doctorates from the Royal Military College of Canada and the University of Ottawa.

Douglas Cardinal, Doctor of Law LLD

[Douglas Cardinal]
Douglas Cardinal

Ceremony 21: Wednesday, June 6 at 2:30 pm

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Douglas Cardinal's architectural studies at The University of British Columbia took him to Austin, Texas, where he achieved his architectural degree and found his passion for human rights initiatives. Mr. Cardinal has become a forerunner of philosophies of sustainability, green buildings, and ecologically designed community planning.

Mr. Cardinal has received many national and international awards, including 20 Honorary Doctorates, Gold Medals of Architecture in Canada and Russia, and an award from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for best sustainable village. He was also titled an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the most prestigious awards that can be given to a Canadian, and he was awarded the declaration of “World Master of Contemporary Architecture” by the International Association of Architects.

Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics awarded $1.8M in funding

Faculty at Smith School of Business to develop leading-edge tools for Canada’s financial industry.

A financial services project at Smith School of Business’ Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics (SCCA) has received a $900,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)’s Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Grant program. This funding has been matched by Scotiabank for a total $1.8 million.

Michael Zerbs and Yuri Levin
Michael Zerbs, Chief Technology Officer at Scotiabank, and Yuri Levin, Executive director and Smith Chair of Analytics at Smith School of Business.

The multi-phase project will look at several areas of technology in financial services, including large-scale customer behaviour analysis, risk evaluation, price and resource optimization, big data and online algorithms.

This funding will enable researchers to develop tools and models to ensure Canada’s financial industry continues to be a technological leader, creating innovative products to help customers.

“This project is an incredible example of government, the private sector, and professors and students collaborating on important applied research in the financial industry,” says Yuri Levin, Executive Director and Smith Chair of Analytics at Smith School of Business.

“We are pleased to enhance the important, customer-focused research coming out of Smith and the Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics,” says Michael Zerbs, Chief Technology Officer at Scotiabank. “The collaboration between the students and professors at the Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics is helping Scotiabank to reshape and enhance the customer experience. These students are our future leaders and Scotiabank’s goal is to help ensure that they have the necessary skills and resources they need to support their success.”

Intended to foster mutually beneficial collaborations expected to result in industrial and economic benefits to Canada, CRD Grants give companies that operate from a Canadian base access to the unique knowledge, expertise, and educational resources available at Canadian postsecondary institutions.

“NSERC’s Research Partnerships program supports strong R&D collaborations and dynamic interchange between academia and partners,” says Marc Fortin, Vice-President, Research Partnerships, NSERC. “We are proud to support this collaboration that will help Canadian banks remain innovative and competitive by incorporating the best analytics practices in their operations. They will tackle various emerging issues in the banking industry which will provide many tangible and intangible benefits to Canada, like better customer satisfaction and better risk management.”

The Scotiabank Centre for Customer Analytics opened at Smith in January 2016. Scotiabank pledged $2.2 million in support of the centre, with some of the funding tied to various NSERC research grant programs. The centre builds on Queen’s research leadership in big data and advanced research computing.

Queen’s rises to the World’s Challenge Challenge

A team of Queen’s students will compete this summer at a social enterprise competition hosted at Western University.

[James Hantho, Karina Bland, and Mitch Sadler of ClimaCube]
James Hantho (Comm'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18) celebrate their win at the local World's Challenge Challenge competition. The international finals take place in June in London, ON. (Supplied Photo)

Hot off the heels of their win at the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) Winter Pitch Competition, ClimaCube will represent Queen’s at an international competition designed to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) is a competition started at Western University in 2014, and expanded to include other institutions last year. The mission of the competition is to bring together students from a wide range of institutions, cultures, and continents to create potential solutions to significant global issues. Past winners include a team from Dalhousie University who planned to 3D print prosthetics in developing countries from recycled materials, and a team from The Netherlands who created a knapsack to help Indonesian anglers keep their catches cold. There are four prizes up for grabs this year, including a grand prize of $30,000.

Queen’s recently held a local competition, supported by the DDQIC, aimed at selecting a team to represent Queen’s at the WCC. Galvin Niu (Sc’19) and Jacob Riha (Sc’18) ran the local competition, which concluded this past weekend.

ClimaCube includes James Hantho (Comm'18), Leigh-Ann McKnight (Sc'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18). The team is developing portable cold storage units to maintain the quality of items such as samples or vaccinations and extend the cold lifetime (or 'cold chain') as they are in transit.

As the winning team, ClimaCube earns the right to represent Queen’s at the WCC and their costs to attend the conference will be picked up by the DDQIC.

ClimaCube is also being sponsored to attend the MassChallenge Awards with DDQIC in October 2018, which is the grand finale to the MassChallenge accelerator program in Boston. On past trips, DDQIC has taken students to lectures at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), visited local incubators, and networked with the startup community at MassChallenge – all opportunities that ClimaCube may receive this fall.

“We are all very excited about this next step in our venture’s journey,” says Ms. Bland. “Competing at The World’s Challenge Challenge at Western University in June has further motivated our team to speed up our prototyping process, which we think can greatly contribute to our success in the competition. Additionally, as Queen’s students we are excited to compete against our rival Western University.”

Members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities served as judges for the local competition, including Dirk Rodenburg, a lecturer and educational consultant; Pavel Graymason, Executive Director of Sustainable Kingston; and Chloe Beisheim of the DDQIC.

"I have judged a few of these competitions at Queen's, and it is always a refreshing and exciting experience," says Mr. Graymason. "I believe innovation is implementation, and in that respect these students are way ahead of some seasoned professionals - they have big ideas and they make them happen. All the ideas presented were great and demonstrated significant creativity and it is an honour to support them."

When scoring the proposals, judges followed criteria set by WCC organizers which looks at the strength of the proposal’s argument, its financials and feasibility, potential partners, some recognition of the origins of the problem, and three other categories.

Four teams applied to represent Queen’s at the WCC this year, and the DDQIC hopes to attract even more competitors in the future. Two runner-up teams will receive a one-year membership to SparQ Studios, a makerspace on campus designed to help these entrepreneurs further develop their ideas.

The World’s Challenge Challenge international finals take place June 3 to 8 in London, Ont. For more information, visit www.worldschallengechallenge.com

Six budding businesses boosted

A pitch competition organized by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre resulted in cash for some innovative ideas. 

The ClimaCube team, from L-R: James Hantho (Comm'18), Leigh-Ann McKnight (Sc'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18). (University Communications)
The ClimaCube team, from L-R: James Hantho (Comm'18), Leigh-Ann McKnight (Sc'18), Karina Bland (Sc'18), and Mitch Sadler (Sc'18). (University Communications)

Queen’s students are applying their skills to tackle global challenges both small and large – from better Lyme disease testing to ensuring protection of medical samples while in transit.

These are just a couple of the ideas that were on display at a recent pitch competition organized by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). The centre invited student entrepreneurs to present their ideas for a chance to win funding, and potentially to enter the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) bootcamp beginning in May.

“The pitches were excellent, and there was quite a remarkable diversity of technologies and ideas,” says Anton Toutov (Sc’11), chair of the Los Angeles node of the Queen’s Innovation Centre Global Network and one of the event’s judges. “These businesses were primarily in the idea stage, but the thought process and care was quite good and the quality was high. I want to congratulate all those who pitched.”

Ten teams sought funding in the competition, and in the end six of them will each be receiving between four and five thousand dollars in seed money. ClimaCube, a team which is developing portable cold storage units to maintain the quality of items such as samples or vaccinations and extend the cold lifetime (or 'cold chain') as they are in transit, was one of the successful competitors.

Successful pitches:
eBridges - A multi-vendor e-commerce platform that provides small businesses and independent merchants in developing countries with direct access to the global marketplace. Received $5,000.
Lymelight Genetech - Developing a diagnostic to provide reliable, accessible, and affordable Lyme disease testing. Received $5,000.
BearCloud Games - A digital game studio specializing in mobile and virtual reality games. Received $4,000.
ClimaCube - Developing portable cold storage units to extend the quality of products as they are in transit, such as samples or vaccinations. Received $4,000.
Leash Technologies - A small device that will alert you if you have left your phone behind at home or any public place. Received $4,000.
Sicana - A text message encyclopedia that allows students in countries with limited internet access the ability to text basic search questions and receive an answer. Received $4,000.

The ClimaCube team recently returned from a social enterprise competition in Dubai known as the Hult Prize. The team gained great experience going through that process, which helped prepare them to pitch at the QICSI competition. Both presentations were great learning experiences, says Karina Bland (Sc’18).

“This presentation was a fantastic experience for us, as the judges were highly engaged and provided helpful feedback,” says Ms. Bland, one of the team members behind ClimaCube. “We appreciated the fact that the QICSI presentations were short and there was a longer question period, which allowed us to clarify some aspects of our product. With this funding, we aim to produce a prototype of our portable active cooling system.”

Ms. Bland says, thanks to this win, she and her three co-founders will all be participating in the competitive QICSI bootcamp this summer – providing them a further leg up as they develop their business.

“As I come from a technical background, I am excited to learn a lot about business and benefit from the experience of the QICSI mentors,” she says.

The QICSI bootcamp runs from May to August and features intensive instruction designed to help student entrepreneurs build stronger businesses. The program ends with a pitch competition where the start-ups bring their best pitches to try and earn seed funding. Forty-seven students will be attending this year’s bootcamp after competing in the spring and fall pitch competitions. One team is also attending QICSI after winning the Kingston Mayor’s Innovation Challenge.

Other funded pitches at the spring competition include eBridges, Lymelight Genetech, BearCloud Games, Leash Technologies, and Sicana. For these six, and for the four who did not receive funding this time, Dr. Toutov has the same advice.

“Win or lose, successful or unsuccessful in this competition, the network available to these entrepreneurs is amazing,” he says. “Talk to people within the Queen’s community to get connected to others in your field to avoid landmines and de-risk your business. Don't hesitate to make those connections.”

For more news from the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, visit queensu.ca/innovationcentre/newsandevents

A lesson in leadership

Commerce student Vanessa Lin spends a day with Purolator's John Ferguson through CEOx1Day program.

Vanessa Lin and John Ferguson of Purolator
Through the CEOx1Day program, Vanessa Lin (Com'19) spent a day of learning with Purolator CEO John Ferguson as well as other company executives. (Supplied Photo)

When Vanessa Lin (Com’19) was selected to take part in the CEOx1Day program, she knew she was in for a unique experience.

What she didn’t know was how much access she would be given to Purolator President and Chief Executive Officer John Ferguson.

As a result of the in-person connection, Ms. Lin gained valuable insight into what it takes to lead a Canadian company with more than 10,000 employees.

Run by talent management firm Odgers Berndtson, CEOx1Day connects students with industry leaders for in-person learning opportunities.

When she heard about the program, Ms. Lin knew she had to apply.

“I was drawn to it because it is such a unique opportunity,” she says. “When else would you get the chance to learn from someone with such a high-level scope? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see that kind of role firsthand.”

After applying online Ms. Lin underwent a rigorous, multi-stage assessment and interview process. In the end she was one of 18 post-secondary students from across Canada selected for the job-shadowing program.

Ms. Lin arrived at Purolator on Friday, Feb. 23 and started her day with a tour of the massive shipping facility in Mississauga. Throughout the day she met with a number of executives, including Mr. Ferguson, learning about the company and their roles.

What impressed Ms. Lin the most was the opportunity to observe Mr. Ferguson’s leadership style through a series of meetings, including a straight-talk session with employees.

“He takes a very collaborative approach,” Ms. Lin says. “Even though he leads, he also really values everyone else’s contributions. You can tell he really embodies diversity characteristics and understands that a team is better when there is diversity and everyone works together.  Seeing that and then seeing how transparent he is with people in all positions throughout the company – that consistent approach really resonated with me. That is the kind of leader I want to be as well.”

In her third year of studies at Smith School of Business, Ms. Lin is busy outside the classroom through extra-curricular activities and also volunteers in the Kingston community with Girls Inc. and the Algonquin and Lakeshore District School Board. This fall semester she completed a study exchange at the University of Economics, Prague.

Looking to her own career path there is no definite end goal, she says, but she is clear on her approach.

“I will be working hard and doing something I love,” she says. “It’s about making an impact wherever that turns out to be.”

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