Nov. 16, 2020

Nov. 16 – 20 is Innovation Week YYC

A message from Ed McCauley, president and vice-chancellor
Innovation Week

It’s only natural that Canada’s entrepreneurial university is also one of its most innovative. And every day, more and more of UCalgary’s innovations are helping Calgary’s economy diversify and grow.

We’re proud to participate in Startup Calgary’s Innovation Week, Canadian Innovation Week and Global Entrepreneurship Week. All week long we'll be sharing stories about the exciting innovation produced by our daring thinking. We’re supporting local businesses, creating jobs in our hometown, and helping Calgary reach better days ahead.

I don’t think we can have innovation without entrepreneurial thinking. Most associate entrepreneurialism with business — taking a risk, reaping the reward. But to me, it’s more of a mindset and a culture. It is the way we turn problems into solutions; challenges into opportunities. The risks we take as a university often lead to commercialization, but they don’t have to.

Entrepreneurial thinking applies to every area in which we can add new value to society, including novel approaches in education. At UCalgary, we’re finding innovative ways to teach, as we saw from the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning when the pandemic began, or in our work adopting nimble credentialing, such as our stackable certificates.

Entrepreneurial thinking is also on full display when we’re bold enough to make new partnerships, which we’re better-placed than ever to do thanks to the great strides we’ve made in expanding our innovation ecosystem. Innovate Calgary includes almost 40 local companies and last year saw new startups jump by 75 per cent.

The Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies creates scalable seed companies in the science and technology space. In our Life Sciences Innovation Hub, companies work directly with our faculty and staff, and of course the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking helps spur the innovations of tomorrow by inspiring our most entrepreneurial students today. There’s more to do, but few research universities can match our close, practical work with Calgary businesses — every day.

But it’s not all about business. At the Faculty of Social Work in 1983, a social enterprise began that’s changed lives — and saved lives — literally around the world. LivingWorks is a training program that teaches people what suicidal signs look like, how to talk with people at risk of suicide, and, if necessary, how to intervene and keep someone safe. And the best part is, it works.

LivingWorks has trained more than two million people in countries from Australia to Zambia, with peer-reviewed studies about its effectiveness. In fact, it’s estimated that the program has prevented more than 300,000 suicide attempts. Two of its founders, both former UCalgary professors, organized a U.N. conference on suicide prevention and more than a dozen countries now use their suicide prevention strategies.

Pandemic or not, energy is always top of mind in Calgary. Oil and gas, of course, but also other fuels and energy sources will help us retain the title of Canada’s energy capital — fuels such as hydrogen, which can be separated from oil and coal to leave the carbon in the ground while diversifying the energy Alberta produces. One of the leading players in this exciting field is Calgary-based Proton Energy, co-founded by UCalgary professor Dr. Ian Gates. Its patented technology injects oxygen into the oil, resulting in the production of hydrogen. It’s an excellent example of how a research university helps foster future sources of prosperity and jobs.

These are just two examples of the real-world impact UCalgary creates through entrepreneurial thinking, but there will be many more, including those that flow from our UCeed program that we unveiled this summer. It’s purpose-built to drive innovation, commercialize new technologies and help get university startups going. I am excited about the new connections that we can create between the groundbreaking research done every day at UCalgary and the opportunities to help our city’s economy to transform and grow more resilient — as research universities have shown they can do in many cities.

I encourage you to find out more about our innovative research, entrepreneurial spirit, and our Innovation Week programming.

Innovation Week at UCalgary  

As part of UCalgary’s partnership with Calgary Economic Development, UCalgary is celebrating  Innovation Week YYC, as well as Canadian Innovation Week and Global Entrepreneurship Week. Join UCalgary experts and researchers Nov. 16 to 20, for a week of conversation, inspiration and ideas. Learn how you can get involved.

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