Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Queen’s Growth Accelerator provided the opportunity to “slow down and dig deep”

Daniel Desjardins’ reason for joining Queen’s Partnership and Innovation’s new Growth Accelerator was simple: “It was the right time to do all that learning.”

Three years ago, Desjardins helped launch Kings Distributed Systems. A physicist by training, he knew from his own work the key role that computing power plays in modern research and innovation. But he also knew accessing this kind of computing power can be prohibitively expensive.

He and his team developed a solution. The average university may not have its own high-performance computing data centre, but “they have thousands of desktops around campus,” says Desjardins. “Our software connects them all and allows them to act as one.” Whatever a researcher is working on, as long as it can be broken into smaller pieces, can be distributed across these computers for execution. “Now here’s the cool part,” he says. “This is 2 to 20 times cheaper than commercial, cloud-based computing.”

Today, 25 people work for the Kingston-based Kings Distributed Systems. Recently, says Desjardins, “we have been developing Project Looking Glass, a $2.2 million dollar project launching this fall in which we are going to be spreading our technology for free across Canadian universities and high schools to run predictive analytics on COVID-19 data.”

 “We’ve been building as fast as possible,” says Desjardins. But he understood that while “the temptation is always to focus on action and next steps,” sometimes you have to think about “slowing down and digging deep. There are a million things that should be researched, understood and kept up with” to grow properly.

Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation’s new program gave him the opportunity to do just that.

“It acted as a bit of a retrospective, and it allowed me to reflect on all the things we’ve done to date,” he says.

“I really liked the sessions on team composition, on using strategic diverse recruitment to complement the teams. And on determining who our customer is. The material on refining cold calls was almost scientific in its approach.

“It also allowed me to interact with [company] founders and leaders, to share views that I can’t really talk about with my own team. So that was refreshing.” As for the program’s last-minute switch to an all-virtual delivery. “It was less disruptive on-line and was actually more convenient. It allowed me to attend the whole thing with ease,” he says.

“Stiletto [the company hired to design and run the program] was absolutely excellent in guiding and shepherding us and we were always in good hands. It was an excellent, fruitful program. The Accelerator crystalized a lot of good knowledge and filled in a lot of gaps. “