Welcome to the July edition of the OPI blog, which provides brief updates on some of the Office of Partnerships and Innovation’s (OPI) activities in April, May and June. If you missed our first five editions, please check them out:

Monthly Spotlight: Forward Water Technologies Receives Investment

Forward Water Technologies (FWT) received investment in May from Bioindustrial Innovation Canada in partnership with a mission-driven family office from the Toronto area, involved in developing and advancing novel technologies in CleanTech among other sectors.

The initial technology behind FWT originated from the laboratory of Professor Philip Jessop at Queen's University who disclosed his discovery to the OPI Technology Transfer Unit (TTU), formerly PARTEQ Innovations. PARTEQ, on behalf of Queen’s, licensed the technology to GreenCentre Canada (GCC), a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research co-located with Queen’s at Innovation Park. GCC further developed the technology and launched it as a spin-off company in 2012. The proprietary forward osmosis system is a highly energy efficient process that has been successfully demonstrated for the treatment of many challenging high total dissolved solids wastewater streams that return fresh water for re-use in operations or discharge to either sewer or surface systems. FWT has been engaged in the commercial development of this technology and has brought it from the lab to almost commercial readiness. The investment not only unlocks a substantial non-dilutive government-based funding opportunity previously announced, but poises FWT for its ultimate goal of commercial success.

Around the OPI in April/May/June...

  • In April through June, the Research Partnerships Unit (RPU) engaged with more than 150 researchers at Queen’s, and more than 300 companies and organizations in the region, Ontario, Canada, or internationally, and represented Queen’s and its researchers and innovators at numerous conferences, events and Board meetings. A few large initiatives that have been underway for the past one to two years had the following key events/milestones in June:
    • The RPU has been building relationships with several institutions, organizations and colleagues in Syracuse to establish the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway, an initiative to facilitate cross-border collaborations in support of innovation and research. In June, the RPU worked with FHS researchers to organize and host the 2nd “Clayton Summit”, which included Queen’s, SUNY Upstate Medical, and Clarkson University. Discussions focused on prostate and bladder cancer research collaboration opportunities. Next steps include the establishment of monthly planning meetings between the leads at each of SUNY and Queen’s, development of NDAs to advance specific research projects, documentation and development of strategies to promote and enable cross-border access to research resources such as the Centre for Advanced Computing at Queen’s (CAC) and bio banks, and development of specific material transfer agreements to enable cross-border access to the bio banks.
    • The RPU has been building relationships with CUTRIC, the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium, and its partners. In June, the RPU hosted CUTRIC at Queen’s and organized round table discussions with researchers. The RPU also attended the CUTRIC workshop on Smart Shuttles and the R&D Forum, both of which took place in Montreal. During the Forum, the RPU presented Queen’s research strengths related to electric mobility and fuel cell technologies.
  • In April through June, the Research Contracts Unit (RCU) received and commenced review of 281 new files and/or agreements. The RCU team also finalized negotiations, and signed or closed 224 files and/or agreements on behalf of the research enterprise and community at Queen’s.
    • Following discussions and negotiations, which commenced in March 2018, and included the RCU and TTU, personnel from Spectra Plasmonics and researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering, the RCU concluded an agreement for a future collaborative research relationship with Spectra Plasmonics Inc., a student-led start-up company that grew out of the Foundry program. The relationship between Queen’s and the company is codified in a Master Research Agreement (MRA), which provides the framework for the conduct of multiple research projects with researchers across the university; it provides a mechanism for the loaning of equipment; and it provides a framework to permit personnel from Spectra Plasmonics to visit and use facilities at the university in the pursuit of the commercial development of the company’s technology. The conclusion of the MRA with Spectra Plasmonics provides a model going forward for how the university can continue to collaborate with and support student-led startups as they grow and develop as independent businesses.
    • The RCU completed a detailed contract for a recently hired researcher in the Department of Biology involving a collaboration between several universities across Canada and a governmental agency. The project takes place on site in Northern Ontario. Issues of appropriate insurance coverage and environmental protections had to be resolved quickly to allow the graduate students to start the experiments on time.
    • Work with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) continues as the RCU moves into the summer months. The CCTG spring meeting of investigators and industry partner observers occurred and the RCU is awaiting details of newly planned multi-site studies. In the meantime, our first Project Agreement under our Master Agreement with the University Hospital Network (UHN), an investigational new drug trial using UHN developed compounds and close to $1 million in support from government and cancer charities, is almost ready to sign
  • The Technology Transfer Unit (TTU) was also busy from April through June:
    • Our patent and commercialization teams were busy assisting the 2018 Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) cohort. Starting at the end of May, student teams are provided assistance with searching and understanding intellectual property that already exists in the area of their business idea. This may include trademarks, utility and/or design patents. Strategy sessions included how to avoid infringing existing IP, and what areas of development are less crowded and are in need of solutions. One of our two patent agents has been onsite with the QICSI cohort on Tuesday afternoons, and will continue to provide support throughout the summer to help teams avoid IP landmines and to point them to resources for startups that are available in Kingston and at Queen’s. Some of these resources include OPI’s TTU and RPU teams, Launch Lab, Michael White (Queen’s patent librarian), Queen’s Business Law Clinic, GrindspaceXL, funding sources, networking opportunities, etc.
    • Queen’s is offering for the first time a graduate diploma program “Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Management and Innovation”. This program is developed to specifically enhance relevant industry or institutional experience, practical knowledge of the process of commercializing medical innovation, and business acumen that would strengthen the competitiveness of new applicants for early-stage industrial/academic career opportunities. A TTU commercial team member has prepared and will deliver a presentation on Intellectual Property in Canada’s Biopharma Ecosystem, as an overview on drug discovery.
  • In April through June, the Regional Innovation Ecosystem Unit (RIEU) incubated 42 startup companies at Innovation Park, including 26 founded by Queen’s faculty, current or recent staff, and/or student entrepreneurs. The following are samples of events and-or resources organized by the RIEU in April for its clients at Innovation Park:
    • In June the RIEU hosted an information session about its GrindSpaceXL accelerator, which is now accepting applications for the fall program. Organized by Queen’s with support from Launch Lab, GrindSpaceXL-Kingston (GSXL-K) is a cohort-based program that offers early-stage ventures the opportunity to engage with other motivated entrepreneurs while working on deliverables laid out in a personalized development plan based on a needs assessment. Content is delivered by seasoned entrepreneurs, and Queen’s and Launch Lab provide support to participating entrepreneurs and startups during and following graduation from GSXL-K, including facilitating access to funding opportunities and other resources, and making connections to partners and collaborators including Invest Ottawa and L-SPARK.
    • In May and June, the RIEU arranged for Sales Coach Les Magyar, from Infinity Sales Solutions, to meet one-on-one with numerous ventures to provide them specific advice on how to improve and implement their sales plans.
    • In June, two members of the OPI and one colleague from Advancement attended the Cottage Pitch Fest in the Thousand Islands, which was organized and hosted by L-Spark, one of Queen’s partners in the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program. The purpose was to explore new models of collaboration with L-Spark to establish Scale-up Accelerator programs and potentially leverage the resources and networks of each party

In the News...

The following items are a sampling of news stories from the OPI and our partners:

  • Startup accelerator GrindSpaceXL now accepting applications for fall 2018 program in Kingston!
  • Bioindustrial Innovation Canada and GreenCentre Canada announce private investment in Forward Water Technologies
  • Rillea Technologies: Chemical Safety in the Palm of Your Hand
  • Fresh funds for fresh water

Thanks for reading!

If you have a specific question about any of the information above or want a specific topic addressed in a future post, please contact Amanda Gilbert, Communications Coordinator at amanda.gilbert@queensu.ca.