Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Meet the new Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation

What a difference a year makes! The Office of Partnerships and Innovation (OPI) moved out of Innovation Park at 945 Princess Street last October. While  the Research Contracts Unit continues to be based in Fleming Hall-Jemmett Wing, the remainder of the team occupies a new footprint, located at the Seaway Coworking building at 310 Bagot Street in downtown Kingston, which provides a more strategic location that is closer to partners and Queen’s campus. While both locations are currently closed due to COVID-19, staff continue to be available to support researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies. But our location isn’t the only thing new – the Office of Partnerships and Innovation underwent several other changes, including a name change. In early 2020, the Office of Partnerships and Innovation became Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI). This process was aided by the Queen’s Marketing department which provided guidance on naming of new programs and designed and created new graphics and banners for use online and in the physical office space.

New location, new name, new programs

The programs and services we previously delivered at Innovation Park under the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP) came to an end with the funding agreement in March 2019. So, in addition to the new location and new name for QPI, new funding opportunities from the federal government lead to the development of new partnerships and the design and implementation of many new programs and services.

Scale-Up Platform

Announced in April 2019, led by Invest Ottawa, Communitech and MaRs Discovery District, and supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Scale-Up Platform is aimed at helping companies overcome three key challenges to rapid growth and market success – customers, revenue and talent. As one of several partners in Eastern Ontario, QPI is delivering programs and services to help science- or tech-based entrepreneurs and companies in the Kingston and surrounding area grow their businesses and help prepare them to access the Scale-up programs. QPI’s new programs include the Queen’s Startup Runway Incubation program, the Wings Acceleration program and the Growth Acceleration program. QPI’s Go to Market services include mentorship from QPI staff and partners, support to develop intellectual property and commercialization strategies, R&D collaborations, and export market strategies, and focus on investment readiness and attraction.

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy

In August 2019, Queen’s announced approval of funding from the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund, managed by FedDev Ontario. The investment of $3.267M from the federal government WES Ecosystem Fund, combined with $1.28M investment from Queen’s and its partners, is enabling QPI and partners to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs in Kingston and the surrounding community. New programs and services, delivered under the umbrella of the WE-CAN Project at Queen’s University, are training, mentoring, and providing resources to women entrepreneurs and accelerating women-led companies. Various programs and services are available to women entrepreneurs who live in, and are leading and building technology (hardware, software or science-based) companies in Kingston and select regions of eastern Ontario; women entrepreneurs from eastern Ontario, including the greater Kingston area, the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, the Mohawk Nation Territory at Akwesasne, Cornwall and Ottawa, and southern Ontario, who identify as Indigenous; women entrepreneurs in the greater Kingston area who identify as a newcomer to Canada (last 10 years), belonging to a visible/racialized minority or having a disability; women entrepreneurs starting or growing businesses in rural areas outside the urban centre of Kingston; and women entrepreneurs who are under 40. External partners and program delivery agents include the City of Kingston, Kingston Economic Development Corporation, KEYS, St. Lawrence College, L-SPARK and Okwaho Equal Source. Internal partners include the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre and the Queen’s Business Law Clinic.

But that’s not all!

With so many changes happening for QPI, it was necessary to revamp our website! Previously QPI had two separate websites – OPI and Innovation Park. We have now combined the websites together in “one-stop shop” for internal and external clients.

How to navigate

The QPI homepage invites navigators to explore programs and services related to two areas of focus:

  • Partnerships, Research Collaboration and Knowledge Mobilization, and
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.

QPI offers many services to Queen’s faculty members, post-docs, students, research centres, departments and faculties. These can be found on the Partnerships, Research Collaboration and Knowledge Mobilization section of the website. QPI also offers concierge services to external organizations seeking to collaborate with Queen’s.

Additionally, QPI offers programs and services to support entrepreneurs and to accelerate the growth of startups and small to medium-sized enterprises within Kingston and Eastern Ontario. These can be found in the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development section of the website.

We invite you to explore either or both area(s) of focus and also invite you to contact us to discuss your needs and interests!

We are pleased to share the following QPI highlights:

Image shows the following QPI highlights: over 1300 research-related contracts negotiated; over 40 patents filed and over 20 patents granted; over 70 science- or tech-related companies supported in eastern Ontario; and over 150 women entrepreneurs supported in eastern Ontario.

Partnerships, Research Collaboration and Knowledge Mobilization

In FY 2019-2020, QPI filed 41 patent applications, including 25 US patent applications and 8 international patent applications. During that year, 21 patents were granted, including 12 US patents and others in Canada, Japan, Europe, and India. With help from QPI, Praveen Jain, professor and researcher in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, hit a milestone of 100 patents for his research this year! Dr. Jain’s patents span the whole range of the power electronics field.

QPI aims to advance collaborations involving the university, Queen’s researchers and partners, including those from industry, not-for-profit organizations and other academic institutions, and works with federal, provincial, and not-for-profit funding agencies to accelerate such collaborations.

In June, two QPI team members attended the BIO Digital online conference to pursue life-sciences-based partnering opportunities. More than 3,200 companies and 5,700 attendees were registered, and included participants from Asia, Europe and North America. Companies included contract research organizations, patient advocacy groups, biopharma companies, medical device companies as well as investors (venture capitalists and other investor groups). QPI organized and conducted more than 30 virtual meetings over the four day event, which provided a unique opportunity to meet with many licensing groups from industry to understand needs of various companies, learn about industry and research trends, and identify potential synergies with interests and expertise of Queen’s researchers. Follow up discussions are underway with several companies.

QPI team members facilitated a recently announced research collaboration and licensing agreement with Taysha Gene Therapies, Inc., in support of the work of Queen’s researcher and Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) staff member Jagdeep S. Walia (Pediatrics), who has generated preclinical evidence for a gene therapy approach that may be a potential treatment for GM2 gangliosidoses, also referred to as Tay-Sachs (TSD) and/or Sandhoff disease (SD).

In spring 2020, QPI acceleration client, Kings Distributed Systems championed the successful Project Looking Glass application to the Digital Technology Supercluster. The project was launched in partnership with Riskthinking.AI, Limestone Analytics, Queen’s University, aiSight, and Distributed Compute Labs. Contributors include CENGN, Server Cloud Canada, Dymond, AMPD, PHEMI Systems, Krate Distributed Information Systems, and multiple municipalities in Ontario, B.C., Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. Project Looking Glass is building a decision-support platform that uses predictive modelling to analyze policies and determine which can best protect Canadians in the new normal. Using the tool, decision-makers will have the ability to say that policy x will have public health impact y and economic impact z.

The QPI Research Contracts team leads the review and negotiation of ~ 1300 research and innovation related agreements each year. In recent months, the team also focused on providing expedited service to many researchers who are involved in more than 25 COVID-19 related research projects in collaboration with partners. In addition to being “extra-urgent”, these agreements were typically very complex and time consuming to negotiate as they involved multiple parties and numerous sub agreements. Examples of Queen’s researchers providing leadership roles on COVID-19 related projects requiring collaboration and other third-party agreements include:

  • The Centre for Advanced Computing is a lead partner in the Ontario Health Data Platform being established to enable medical and related research of COVID-19 for big data analytics on federated de-identified health records related to coronavirus patients.
  • Dr. Steven Brooks (Emergency Medicine) is the lead investigator for the development of an Ontario registry of health data from patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 presenting to one of 8 participating emergency departments in the province.  Data from the Ontario sites will also be entered into a 52-site pan-national registry of emergency department patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.  Data will be used to optimize care and outcomes for COVID-19 patients in Canadian emergency departments while also contributing to the global effort to curb the pandemic."
  • Dr. David Maslove (Medicine & Critical Care) is engaged internationally with a study about whether people are more likely to get a coronavirus depending on their genes. He’s working in partnership with teams in the United Kingdom, to contribute the fully decoded genomes of COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU, to better understand the genes behind the disease – part of a global mission that’s aiming for tens of thousands of genomes to be decoded.
  • Dr. Majid Pahlevani (Electrical and Computer Engineering) received multiple NSERC and Mitacs grants to support collaborations with Genoptics LED Inc. and Harvard University. The research involves photodynamic therapy for annihilating COVID-19 virus and therapeutic nano-optic endoscopy for detection and treatment of COVID-19. The team is fabricating an imaging and treatment device for severe respiratory failure.
  • Dr. Myron Szewczuk (Biomedical and Molecular Science) was awarded an NSERC Alliance grant and a Mitacs Accelerate grant working with Encyt Technologies Inc. to study the mechanism of COVID-19 induced hyperinflammation. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is typically the cause of death with COVID-19 as it leads to extreme tissue failure either by fluid in the lungs or a severe immune reaction in which the body releases too many cytokines into the blood too quickly. Cytokines play an important role in normal immune responses, but, having a large amount of them released in the body all at once can be harmful and is called a “cytokine storm”. The novel treatment created by the parties will eliminate the cytokine storm causing multi-organ failure and death.
  • Dr. Tina Dacin (Smith School of Business) was awarded a Mitacs grant (“PPE Image Detection for COVID-19 Infection Control in Healthcare Settings”) and is working with Medduck Solutions - subject matter experts in infection control, to study the use of AI in primary prevention of health care associated infections (80% of the cause is uniforms of health care workers, other patients and visitors in health care and long term care facilities). The proposal is to use computer vision and machine learning to detect and identify potential non-compliance with PPE requirements in the health care setting and to enhance education and compliance rates.
  • Dr. Troy Day (Mathematics and Statistics) serves on the Province of Ontario COVID-19 Modelling Consensus Table, releasing models projecting the future spread of the virus in the Province.

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

Wings MVP Acceleration program
Following the success of the first Wings MVP Acceleration program (delivered in autumn 2019 with a cohort pictured above), QPI welcomed the second cohort of companies to the Wings program, which launched on June 24th. The program provided early stage founders with tools and guidance to help them assess the feasibility of their business idea, validate their proposed value proposition, and begin the development of a viable business model. This August saw the second cohort of companies graduate from the Wings program offered by Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation and delivered virtually by Seregelyi & Associates.
Growth Acceleration program
Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation’s new Growth Accelerator program helps growing companies determine "What’s Next". The first cohort completed the program in June 2020.
Compass North Acceleration program
Queen’s University and L-SPARK, an Ottawa-based accelerator, launched Compass North, a new acceleration program specifically designed for women founders of technology-focused and revenue generating companies in Kingston and region. The program launched in May and the first cohort graduates in October.
Secure IoT Challenge
Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation, the Queen’s School of Computing and L-SPARK collaborated to design, launch and deliver the Secure IoT Challenge at Queen’s which took place during the January to April 2020 period.
Startup Blink report
Startup Blink, the world’s most comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center, recently acknowledged the contributions of Queen’s to Kingston’s startup ecosystem and ranked Kingston as:
  • A Top 10 Startup Ecosystem in Canada (#9)
  • #4 ecosystem in the world for cities between 100,000 to 300,000 in population
  • #10 ecosystem in the world for cities under 500,000 population
  • #144 globally, moving up six spots since last year
Examining COVID-19’s impact
QPI developed a list of resources and information for entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs who are responding to the changing landscape driven by the COVID-19 situation.