Igniting the spark within researchers to share their discoveries and connect with experts who can help them innovate, implement, and have an impact.
[now innovating] a research-to-impact podcast
This exciting series aims to inspire researchers and community partners to take new steps toward transforming discoveries into solutions, products, and services. Co-hosts Dr. Pritma Chattha and Jordan Witzel provide insight into the experiences of changemakers within the innovation ecosystem, offering proof that pursuing new ventures and non-traditional pathways to impact is essential to solving contemporary issues.
The podcast is reflective of the cultural shift toward innovation and entrepreneurial thinking at the University of Calgary. Hear directly from researchers as they share their failures and successes in the journey from research to implementation and public impact, demonstrating that innovation and entrepreneurship are not limited to STEM disciplines
Learn ways to share discoveries and connect with experts who can help partners innovate, implement and have impact.
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Featuring the latest innovations from UCalgary.
Some 200,000 Canadians are diagnosed annually with bloodstream infections. About 8,000 of these patients will die from sepsis and other complications. With treatment timelines often being a factor, Faculty of Science biochemist Dr. Ian Lewis, PhD, is leading a team of researchers to develop a rapid diagnostic tool. The team hopes to reduce diagnostic timelines in order to get life-saving treatment to people faster. Ian shares his insight into this work being done in his lab.
Julia Robertson, Katherine Yu, Ashna Maredia, and Zach Hong are third year students in their undergraduate medical education at the Cumming School of Medicine. The team of innovators joins the podcast this week to discuss their online tool that is designed to help immigrant patients prepare for their doctor’s appointment. Through recent focus groups, the team learned that communicating with a doctor can be one of the most difficult parts of navigating the healthcare system for those who are new to Canada. Their tool is the result of these findings.
Craig Elias shares details of the upcoming Virtual Startup Weekend hosted by 150 Startups. The event is intended for those looking to find success in business. Attendees will take part in an online learning weekend where they will be placed on teams and led by some of Alberta's most promising first-time entrepreneurs to learn how to validate business ideas. Participants will also compete in a pitch competition for prizes.
Equity seeking groups can contact Craig at 403-874-2998
Dr. Henry Penn, PhD, shares details of the upcoming growing season at an off-grid hydroponic food production unit located at the Kluane Lake Research Station (KLRS) 200 kilometres northwest of Whitehorse, Yukon. This will be the second growing season at Ag1054, which provided 300+ kg of fresh produce for sale to local communities in 2021. Henry's team has made some improvements to the Ag1054 unit in advance of this second growing season, including a updated HVAC system to better align with the temperatures experienced at KLRS. Henry describes the innovative processes that have shaped the evolving research project.
Researchers, postdocs or students interested in research opportunities at Ag1054 can contact Dr. Henry Penn at email@example.com.
Dr. Eddy Lang, MD, is an emergency room doctor and the department head of Emergency Medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is helping plan a major international conference on overdiagnosis coming to Calgary June 9-12, 2022. The conference will include international experts in the field of overdiagnosis and is open to the general public. Dr. Lang shares his thoughts on the innovative processes unfolding in regards to medical over-diagnosis while discussing what to expect at the Preventing Overdiagnosis conference.
Applications are currently open for two innovation fellowships. The Parex Resources Innovation Fellowships are open to researchers from across the university who are immersed in academic research and community partnerships leading to start-ups or technology advancement based on new discoveries, insights, and innovation. The Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowships are awarded to postdoctoral fellows with a track record of innovation activities. Innovation activities refers to translating research results into societal impact. Working with non-academic research partners, creating a start-up, working with innovation organizations and engaging with government and not for profit organizations on policy development are all examples of innovation activities. Pierre Kennepohl, Interim Associate Dean for Innovation and Strategic Programs in the Faculty of Science, joins us with details for those interested in applying.
Questions? Contact Pierre:
Dr. Scott Kraft and Nicola Quiggin join the podcast to share details of the current application process for the third SPARK Calgary cohort. The SPARK program is based at the W21C Research and Innovation Centre. SPARK Calgary supports academic digital health innovators move their projects forward into clinical practice, with the primary aim of benefitting patients. It is a one year program with a 5 hours/month time commitment. Participants receive expert advice, education, and connections to resources.
The application information session is being held online on February 4 from noon to 1:00pm. Register for the session here: w21c.org/spark
UCalgary researchers Dr. Taylor Chomiak, PhD, and Dr. Tamas Füzesi, PhD, share details of the tool they have created to help their team identify patterns embedded in digital data. Local Topological Recurrence Analysis (LoTRA) is a simple machine learning model capable of outperforming deep-learning models in detecting Parkinson’s disease from digitized handwriting samples. The researchers also foresee broader applications for the tool in the future.
The UCalgary ecosystem is poised to lead the energy transition with an investment announced this week from the Government of Canada. Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) is investing $2,140,205 to support the Energy Transition Centre (ETC) in downtown Calgary. The ETC is a collaboration between the University of Calgary, Innovate Calgary, Avatar Innovations, and the energy industry. This episode features that announcement from the Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, Daniel Vandal and acknowledgement of the investment by UCalgary President Ed McCauley, Avatar Innovations CEO Kevin Krausert and Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
Dr. Morteza Chehel Amirani, PhD, shares details of his UCalgary chemistry team's work with Katal Energy. Morteza joined the company as Research Lead in 2017, with the goal of developing a cleaner burning diesel fuel (Katal Green Fuel - KGF). That goal is now being realized. Recent testing in a diesel-burning ocean vessel is allowing Katal energy to tout KGF as being able to immediately reduce carbon and NOx emissions from diesel-fueled equipment.
Dr. Ranita Manocha, MD, is increasing knowledge and awareness of the proper fitting and use of walking aids through an innovative mobile app she designed. Launched in November, the ICanWALK© app is an interactive platform designed for patients, caregivers, and clinicians. It incorporates videos and short questions to teach and evaluate fitting walking aids and how to use them, depending on the type of injury or impairment and where a patient is in their recovery journey. Dr. Manocha’s goal is to increase the accessibility and sustainability of the app for all Canadians. Her hope is that in the future, when someone receives crutches, they are seamlessly provided with information and assistance on fitting and use directly through their smartphone.
UCalgary alumnus Dr. Rowan Cockett, PhD, tells us about his text editor platform Curvenote, developed for modern science. Curvenote is a tool to help scientists, researchers and engineers accelerate the speed of scientific discovery by easing the methods by which sharing, thinking and writing is linked to data and computation. Curvenote allows users to create living documents for collaboration amongst teams. Rowan has recently brought the project to CDL-Rockies for assistance in scaling up.
Dr. Jim Dewald, Dean of the Haskayne School of Business, discusses how meaningful this week's funding announcement for the Creative Destructive Lab (CDL-Rockies) is for entrepreneurs at the University of Calgary. CDL-Rockies brings together experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and subject matter experts to expedite the growth of early-stage science and tech-focused companies. CDL-Rockies charges no fees for participation and takes no equity from participating companies.
Dr. Bruce Barton, PhD, is the Director of the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). Bruce shares his insights into the innovative ways in which the performing arts community has reimagined its relationship with the audience through the COVID-19 pandemic. The SCPA recently re-opened its doors to live audiences for the 2021-2022 performing season, with students and faculty adapting in innovative ways.
Dr. Angelique Jenney, PhD, shares details of a project she is leading that intends to educate students from the faculties of Law, Social Work and Nursing on how to address childhood exposure to domestic violence. The project aims to develop a virtual gaming platform for use by these students to practice and improve their client-interaction skills in a low risk environment. The project represents an innovative collaboration between professors from the faculties of Law, Social Work and nursing at the University of Calgary.
Dr. John Conly and Dr. Herman Barkema share details of the collaborative effort their UCalgary teams led to develop a smartphone app that helps veterinarians combat antimicrobial resistance in a a variety of animal species. The novel tool aims to promote and assist the optimal use of antibiotics with the hope of reducing antimicrobial resistance.
Featuring community partners within the innovation ecosystem.
We speak with Shelley Kuipers in the final episode of season 2. Shelley is an activist in business, entrepreneurship and investment and is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of The51. The51 is a financial feminist platform that brings together women-led capital for women-led businesses to build mutual wealth and community impact. This includes the Financial Feminism Investing Lab at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary. Shelley shares how her team to trying to further bolster the financial feminist economy.
In episode 19 we speak with Keri Damen, Executive Director of the Hunter Hub at UCalgary. In this role, Keri leads mentorship in entrepreneurial thinking at UCalgary. She is dedicated to connecting and growing the university's entrepreneurial thinking and innovation community to ensure students from all disciplines have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the next economy. Through this, UCalgary is creating the ventures of the future. The Hunter Hub is also set to host the first Entrepreneurial Thinking Week at UCalgary, taking place from March 28 to April 1, 2022. For more information on events visit the Hunter Hub.
In episode 18, we revisit many of the incredible conversations we have had on [now innovating]. We launched this podcast from the Office of the Vice President (Research) in the fall of 2021 with the intention of engaging incredible changemakers in our community. We believe conversations with those who have both failed and succeeded in innovation and entrepreneurship can help the next generation of changemakers move into this space with confidence. The idea this week is that we return to some of the best advice we’ve heard from our guests to date. Call it a greatest-hits episode but this is advice worth revisiting!
In episode 17, we speak with Dr. Adam Pidlisecky, PhD, an Associate Professor in the Department of Geoscience at UCalgary and the Associate Department Head of Strategy and Innovation. Adam is leading the Academic Entrepreneur in Residence (AEIR) program as a pilot opportunity for those researchers in the early stages of innovation and entrepreneurship. The AEIR program is aimed at making it easier for researchers to develop innovation concepts while helping them engage with the broader innovation ecosystem available at the University. Adam discusses what it takes to overcome fears of risk in entrepreneurship and outlines how interested individuals and teams can get involved with the AEIR program.
We speak with Dr. Craig Ginn, PhD, in episode 16. Craig is a Professor of Metis ancestry in the Department of Classics and Religion at the University of Calgary. His Songs of Justice Project more recently evolved into the Animal Kinship Project. This socially innovative work has taken Craig into the Evolve to Innovate (e2i) program at Innovate Calgary (more information on this program can be found in episode 11 with John Wilson). Craig shares details on how his perspective on audience has changed since being a part of e2i. He also shares insight into how his perspective of himself and his work has evolved since being in the program. Those songs heard on the podcast are Wonders of the Sky and Travel Without Me.
In this episode, we speak with Derrick Hunter, President and CEO of Bluesky Equities. Derrick is an active champion for entrepreneurial thinking, chairing the external advisory committee of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking and a member of the external advisory committee of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Calgary. He sits on the board of directors for Platform Calgary and serves on the Dean’s Board at the Haskayne School of Business. Derrick's dedication to entrepreneurship and the innovation ecosystem has been acknowledged through awards like the Management Alumni Excellence Award from the Haskayne School of Business in 2018. He was also named Canadian Angel Investor of the Year by the National Angel Capital Organization in 2019, and Technology Investor of the year by Start Alberta in 2019. Derrick shares his insight into the partnerships between academia and the broader community, discussing opportunities for entrepreneurship and measurements for success in the innovation economy.
In this episode, we speak with Alice Reimer who is the Site Lead at Creative Destruction Labs Rockies (CDL) in Calgary. Alice is a successful entrepreneur, previously co-founding Evoco which has become the standard construction management system for global retailers including Walmart, Home Depot, and Staples. Alice has also served as CEO of Chaordix, a pioneering software leader in the crowdsourcing and open innovation space, with global clients including LEGO, Procter & Gamble, KPMG, and IBM. Alice was the recipient of PROFIT’s W100 designation as one of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs and was named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People for 2013. Alice shares her insight into what type of team is well suited to join the program at CDL and how these teams should approach the scaling up phase.
Episode 13 features a conversation with Headversity CEO Dr. Ryan Todd. Headversity is a workplace mobile platform that allows organizations to put the mental health of employees back into their hands. Dr. Todd's entrepreneurial business stands alongside his many other endeavours which collectively aim to redefine how psychiatric services are provided in Canada. He shares his insights into taking on entrepreneurship fresh out of medical school and offers advice gained from his own failures and successes.
In episode 12, we speak with Carlene Donnelly who is the executive director of CUPS. Founded in 1989, CUPS works to help Calgarians escape poverty and overcome trauma. The charity's mission is to build resiliency in people through integrated healthcare, education, and housing support. Carlene's team believes in partnerships with government, research organizations, local businesses, places of worship and other charities to strengthen the broader community. One such partner is UCalgary’s Social Innovation Initiative led by Karen Benzies. Carlene talks about the importance of making decisions based on this research partnership.
We begin season 2 by speaking with John Wilson, President and CEO of Innovate Calgary. Innovate Calgary is the innovation transfer and business incubator at the University of Calgary. Its mission is to help individuals and teams form companies and gain licensing. John shares details of how Innovate Calgary provides intellectual property management, commercialization guidance, technology and innovation marketing, and connections with industry partnership. He also provides insight into two major programs offered through Innovate Calgary; UCEED and Evolve to Innovate (e2i).
Featuring the experiences of changemakers within the innovation ecosystem.
Season 1 of [now innovating] wraps up with a conversation with Dr. Stephen Larter, PhD, and Jeff Ryzner. Stephen Larter is an Associate Vice-President (Research and Innovation) in the office of the Vice-President (Research) and a Professor of Petroleum Geology. Jeff Ryzner serves as the Innovation Program Specialist alongside Stephen. Dr. Larter says impact-related outcomes should be an important metric for universities. He also stresses the importance of researchers and innovators sharing their stories of failure. Jeff Ryzner echoes this sentiment, suggesting researchers and innovators should not fear being associated with failure. Jeff offers solutions for normalizing failure.
In this episode we speak with Dr. Aleem Bharwani, Director for Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships with the Cumming School of Medicine, and the lead for Public Policy at the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary. Dr. Bharwani shares his insights into bridging difference toward positive change in our community. He is interested in solving ways of bringing people back together in a world where community trust is declining.
In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Shelly Russell-Mayhew, a registered psychologist and professor at the Werklund School of Education. She calls herself an accidental innovator and shares her perspective on innovation as being an action that transcends entrepreneurship. Dr. Russell-Mayhew is focused on having an impact on community by reshaping the language used in health and nutrition messaging.
In episode 7, we speak with Dr. Aaron Phillips who is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, as well as Clinical Neurosciences at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Cardiac Science at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute at the University of Calgary. Aaron shares his approach to ensuring forward progress in ongoing projects. Dr. Phillips also speaks to the opportunity available to investors in Canada when it comes to funding early research.
We speak with Dr. Ian Lewis in episode 6. He is the Principal Investigator with the Lewis Research Group and an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary. Dr. Lewis acknowledges that struggling through work and failure is part of the human condition, but credits his support systems for the success he has found. He discusses the evolving barriers his team has faced throughout years of lab work while explaining how the collaborative Alberta Precision Exchange Program (APEX) grew from overcoming many of those early barriers.
In episode 5, we speak with Dr. Karen Benzies who has recently been appointed the Director of Social Innovation in the Office of the Vice President (Research). Karen is also a professor in the Faculty of Nursing and adjunct research professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary. Karen shares details of her new role in leading the Social Innovation Initiative at UCalgary.
The Social Innovation Initiative (SII) was developed to enable faculty to engage in social innovation by scaling existing academic experience, disciplines, and expertise to advance their efforts. The SII complements existing structures and processes by linking with social innovation-based activities, programs, support services, resources, and funding providers, including the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, Innovate Calgary, Knowledge Engagement, the Office of Sustainability, Trico Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Centre, W21C, and the broader UCalgary community.
We welcome Dr. Lawrence Korngut in episode 4. He is the Director of Innovation and Commercialization at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Associate Professor of Neurology at the Cumming School of Medicine. Dr. Korngut is honest in admitting he spends a lot of time in the burnout zone, but stresses the importance of taking a step back often to see the bigger picture in your work. Dr. Korngut shares his approach of serendipity surface area, whereby helping others comes back to you exponentially.
In this episode, we talk to Dr. Kristina Rinker, a professor in both the Shulich School of Engineering and the Cumming School of Medicine. Dr. Rinker is also the lead on the Early Cancer Detection Initiative at the University of Calgary. Dr. Rinker explains how collaborative research led to a breakthrough method of detecting breast cancer. She describes how prioritizing the next critical step in any path toward innovation can help keep momentum within a research team.
In this episode, we speak with Dr. Joel Reardon, a 2019 Peak Scholar, from the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary. Dr. Reardon explains how companies like Google have made changes to their data collection policies in part because of his research efforts. Reardon acknowledges his success in impacting policy change but says he doesn't know where to go next. Joel's team wants to connect directly with private companies who could benefit from developing acceptable privacy policies for the data they collect.
In this first episode, host Jordan Witzel introduces us to co-host Dr. Pritma Chattha who stresses the importance of nurturing collaborations in order to cultivate new beginnings in innovation. The wrong network can become a barrier. Impact can be inspired in a field where a researcher least expects their work to lead. Pritma says the best approach is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable while admitting to the things you don't know.
Jordan Witzel, Host
Jordan Witzel is a communication specialist in the Office of the Vice-President (Research) at the University of Calgary. He holds a masters in Applied Meteorology.
Dr. Pritma Chattha, Host
Pritma Chattha is a Yale-educated nurse executive and serial entrepreneur. As Adjunct faculty at the University of Calgary, she enjoys mentoring students and contributing to healthcare innovations.