As part of the LEADERS & PEOPLE 2021 Virtual Symposium on Environmental Research and Career Training, we are offering a workshop on "Distinctive Ideas, of Value, Put to Practice: Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Impact in Water and the Environment."

Innovation can be defined as "distinctive ideas, of value, put to practice". At the heart of innovation and entrepreneurship is “problem-solution” fit, which embodies and defines “value” by solving problems that people face. This sets the stage for “product-market” fit, which is essential in commercial entrepreneurship, or "solution-stakeholder fit" in social entrepreneurship contexts. “Design thinking” is a human-centred approach that encompasses observation and insight leading to empathy, providing an effective approach for identifying promising problems whose solution will be the most impactful, and bringing together elements of applied ethnography, problem solving, visual communication and story telling. Systems thinking complements design thinking, focusing on interconnections and components leading to emergent behaviour, but importantly setting the stage to draw inspiration and insight from that which is similar, and that which is different, and to be to communicate this across diverse backgrounds. Design thinking then represents “systems view” for socio-physical systems which are the context in which ideas are mobilized to impact, mindful of principles of social justice and equity. 

This workshop will introduce these ideas, in both commercial entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship contexts, in the context of water and the environment, introducing as well the important concepts of time, risk and capital scales to impact and commercialization, particularly for science-based ventures, and approaches for sharing or protecting the competitive advantage of IP. Examples will include citizen science-based environmental monitoring and portable sensors. 


Dr. James McLellan is the Academic Director and co-founder of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, and a Professor of Chemical Engineering, with cross-appointments to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the Dan School of Drama and Music. He was the Head of Chemical Engineering at Queen’s for 11 years, and was President of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering. Jim’s research program focuses on mathematical, statistical and machine learning techniques for developing and improving products and manufacturing processes, with applications ranging from point-of-care medical diagnostic sensors to bioprocesses for transportation fuels and destroying pollutants, and most recently for developing enzymatic and microbial processes for degrading plastics. Jim has a strong interest in university-anchored innovation ecosystems, and teaches innovation and entrepreneurship, along with systems and design thinking, in courses and programs in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the Smith School of Business. Jim has consulted and collaborated with a wide range of companies, including biotechnology,  biomedical diagnostics and medical devices, and advanced manufacturing, ranging from start-ups to global companies. He is actively involved in championing innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education at the regional, national and international levels.

This workshop is part of a joint virtual symposium co-hosted by the Network on Persistent, Emerging, and Organic PoLlution in the Environment (PEOPLE Network) and The LEaders in wAter anD watERshed Sustainability (the LEADERS Program) for Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) training. A final program with details on Zoom links to the various sessions will be circulated before the symposium and will also be made available on our website.

Please register before July 19th via Eventbrite following link.

Thank you and look forward to seeing you at the symposium!

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