Say Yes to Yes Yes Marsha

After 2 months on the job as the BioLinc Ambassador, I’ve had more than my fair share of forced social networking experiences. Being an outgoing person, I’ve welcomed these opportunities with open arms. So I must admit, when I heard I’d be attending a workshop on networking, I wasn’t exactly elated at the idea. Going into the seminar, I was doing my best to stay positive and focused on learning a new tactic to remember names figuring it was all I stood to gain from this presentation.

Then the talk began and within the first minute Marsha told the audience ‘Everyone in this room, even those who believe they themselves are perfect at networking will stand to gain something from this seminar’. It was as if she was speaking directly to me, and honestly, Marsha could not have been more correct. What followed was three hours of fluid conversation and forced awkward social interactions that were some of the most amusing experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of partaking in during a seminar. Has anyone ever had to stare into a stranger’s eyes for a full minute without being able to look away, speak or move? It is a strangely enlightening experience, in a ‘Nothing will ever be as awkward as this, ever’ kind of way.

From a calming meditation technique to implement in times of stress and peril, to templates for those dreaded follow-up emails and a cool new way to remember people’s names, Marsha was dynamic in her teaching and super approachable during breaks and afterwards. I even had the pleasure of learning some funny British phrases throughout. Never has something so familiar to me like networking felt so foreign, yet by the end of the seminar, everything seemed to obvious, easy and fluid.

In the days since, I’ve had the opportunity to implement these new strategies and they are more effective than anything I had ever tried before. The devil is in the details, so don’t be embarrassed if you require people to repeat their name multiple times in order for you to correctly pronounce it (and remember it!). I always felt it was important to add value to a conversation with people you are networking with in order for them to feel like talking to you is worthwhile. Yet the Marsha taught and Mitchell tested technique of listening more and allowing that person to open up about themselves while asking key questions will leave not only them feeling pleased to have met you, but you in turn will learn more about someone than you could have ever imagined. Trust me, the stories I learned from implementing this technique of networking are incredible. So thank you, Marsha, for truly revolutionizing my daily interactions with people, it was a pleasure to attend your seminar. If anyone is interested in learning more about Marsha and her amazing networking tips you can visit her website at www.yesyesmarsha.com.

Mitchell Cowan
BioLinc Ambassador

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Ontario University Fair

Have you ever needed to give a presentation on something you truly aren’t that knowledgeable about? I don’t mean something that you can say a few big words and roughly describe it in order to get by. I’m referring to those presentations where the professor knows your subject better than your group so every idea and statistic needs to be flawless. That is the only way I could adequately describe my reaction when I was told part of my job as BioLinc Ambassador requires me to travel to the Ontario University Fair (OUF) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre downtown Toronto as a representative of Brock University.

Now I don’t want to give off a false impression, as a proud badger, I marveled at the opportunity to represent my institution and speak to potential students about the amazing experience that is Brock. The only downside was that apart from my personal experiences here and my time at BioLinc, I knew almost nothing about Brock. Thankfully, like any good group members, the members of the Brock community did their best to prepare me for the event. From meetings, to training sessions, handouts and packages to read and a guided tour of the campus, in the span of a week I went from feeling completely overwhelmed to Mr. Brock, ready to tackle any question asked.

In terms of the actual day we went to OUF, I travelled downtown on the Badger Bus with some of the most highly respected faculty from our institution. The entire bus ride, I couldn’t help but think of how lucky I am to be on the same bus as these people and in awe they were taking time out of their busy schedules to come recruit for Brock.

It wasn’t until we arrived at the convention center and got settled at our booth did I realize why such high profile faculty came to represent our university. To put it quite simply, it’s because they truly care about our school and more importantly, each student’s success. I doubt any of the grade 12’s who spoke to an associate dean of a faculty understands the magnitude of how important said dean is to our institution. To them it was just another face representing Brock. To a current Brock student such as myself on the other hand, it solidified that I had made the proper choice for post secondary education. Not only had the facts and numbers I had learned through my research affirm my believes in Brock academically speaking, but the quality of people we sent to represent us, and how polite and approachable they were to anyone who had questions just boggled my mind. It was a far cry from the intimidation I had felt on the bus ride down only hours earlier. Once I finally had the time to sit and speak with some of these high profile faculty members, I was amazed by how much they wanted to know about me specifically. I’m not referring to my classes or grades, but they wanted to know about me as a person. It was in that moment where I truly understood that any student in that convention center, myself included, would be truly lucky to receive and education at Brock.

Mitchell Cowan
BioLinc Ambassador

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The Next 36 Visits BioLinc

On Tuesday October 21, I had the pleasure of gathering with some of Brock University’s most promising entrepreneurs here at BioLinc in order to meet with a representative from a prestigious entrepreneurial program known as The Next 36. The visit with Jon French, the director marketing and communications with The Next 36 was intended to inform those eligible of the program and hopefully to inspire the first Brock inductee.

The Next 36 is a non-profit organization designed to stimulate the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs. Named for its size, only the top 36 undergraduate student entrepreneurs from across the country are accepted.  Those inducted into the program form teams and spend many months living and working together to build a business from the ground up.  Along the way, these students receive guidance and mentorship from some of Canada’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders who work directly with the program. While working on their own project, the students will also receive academic instruction from award winning professors from schools including Harvard Business School, MIT, Wharton, Georgetown, Rotman, Ivey, and Sauder. Along with all of this, is the opportunity to receive up to $65,000 of seed capital for your venture.

During our meeting with about fifteen of Brock’s top entrepreneurs, we began by each introducing ourselves and speaking about the ventures and business ideas that we are currently pursuing. It was exciting just to hear about some of the great work being done by Brock students and to get an idea of the kind of talent and promise that exists within our school. It’s very inspiring and in some cases unbelievable to hear what some people have accomplished at such a young age.

After our introductions, the facilitator from The Next 36 gave us a rundown of the program and all that it entails before opening the floor for any questions. The talent and the interest of those at the table led to some great discussion regarding the program and our eligibility. I, and I believe many others, left the meeting with the renewed energy to build our portfolios as entrepreneurs and to become one of Canada’s next 36.

If you’re interested in applying to be part of The Next 36 or you just want to find out a little more about the program, check out their website at http://www.thenext36.ca.

Ian Farr
BioLinc Ambassador

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TeslaMANIA

On Thursday, July 10th, also known as Tesla’s birthday, I had the opportunity to attend “Tesla Mania” an event focused on Tesla’s inventions and their possible “healing” effects. The event was held in Toronto and consisted of an expo, a presentation and video portion. There were also two companies that attended the expo with a product or service. One focused on reducing the amount of microwave radiation that came from your household electronics. The other focused on therapeutic treatment with electromagnets. One other booth had a man dressed from the 1800s selling antique “static electricity healers”.

All I have to say is, be an informed buyer. I truly do understand the importance of being scientifically literate. There was a company that was selling a device that treated your water with “electromagnetism, a whirlpool and photons”, which was a stir plate with flashing LEDs and a beaker of water with a stir bar at the bottom. But who would have known, right? Just like, who would have understood their video about quantum physics and the Higgs Boson and the Hadron Collider and photons and electrons and all the scientific words they used; not the general public, that is for sure. Some of the ties they made were a little far stretched like, comparing the Hadron Collider to the Milky Way Galaxy to crop circles in England all the way to the design of Tesla’s Coil.

I also learned not to send a businessman to do a scientists work. The sad part about this event was that there is validity to electromagnets and their effects on the human body.  Yet unfortunately, not once was a peer-reviewed article referenced, nor a scientific journal, nor a specific study, nor were there stats listed.

Despite the errors in explaining and their lack of scientific evidence, I believe there are effects (healing or not, I’m not sure) on the human body from magnetic fields as I have researched this topic before and actually read studies that agree with this statement.

Probably their most profound statement, which should have probably been stated as a hypothesis seeing as though there is no evidence for it, brought up the idea that us humans have evolved and adapted to changes on Earth for millions of years with only the Earth’s magnetic field effecting us and now with all of this new technology we are being exposed to so much radiation and different magnetic fields that our bodies are not used to. And this is the reason why some people are getting sick, and some have developed a sensitivity to electronics, etc.

And this is what I was left to ponder on…

Ethan Foy
BioLinc Ambassador

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France Visits BioLinc!

Today BioLinc had the great pleasure of meeting business students from the Rouen Business School in France! This group of students were visiting Brock University for a Summer Study Tour arranged by Brock International. And thankfully for all of us here at BioLinc, these students were very capable of communicating in English!

The 37 students that were in attendance showed great patience, listening skills and interest while touring BioLinc; and we thank them for that. The student’s interest in BioLinc was evident through their attentive listening and meaningful questions. Some wondered how much living and tuition costs here at Brock and how easy it is to find a job during the school year; and if that isn’t evident enough of their interest in coming to Brock some even wondered how hard it is to get a citizenship here!

As always, the 3D printers were a huge success! The students, like everyone else, were very fascinated with the 3D printers and their products we had to display; especially the flopping fish and geared heart.

The students understood very well that BioLinc is a two-way street in the sense that we can provide from both sides of the spectrum, whether you are looking for scientific help or business help, we have the assets to satisfy whatever it is you are seeking. Having David D’Angelo of Trivium industries present helped fortify this idea.

Overall it was a terrific group of students and we hope that today we helped them realize that it is possible to turn their innovative ideas into a reality!

From everyone here at BioLinc “nous les remercions et leur souhaitons la meilleure des chances dans leurs projets futurs!” and we hope to see you again!

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An account of university from a fellow student

I took a philosophy class last year and during one of the last seminars my TA was talking about Michel Foucault’s account of docile bodies. A docile body briefly explained is what society wants us to grow up to be; someone middle-class who will work for the rest of their life, never rebelling, never breaking through the invisible, yet so distinct and thick walls of social norms, never reaching their true potential and never realizing their dreams.

Just before the end of the seminar my TA stopped. He put down his book and stared at us for just a second with a mixed look of frustration and sympathy. He gathered himself and began to tell us something I think we all needed to hear. Recalling it as best as I can it went something like this: University isn’t just some place you go to take courses, study, write tests to get good grades to get a degree to get a job where you will spend the rest of your life working. Forget all about that for a second. Although it might be hidden behind all the stresses one runs into during university, this is also a place for you to learn new skills, learn how to deal with the real world and stress, meet new people, socialize, explore, laugh, party and have fun! There is more to university than schoolwork, he finished saying.

I’m not trying to convince people to rebel and give up on schoolwork however. All I am trying to say is don’t let it consume 100% of your time here at university. This isn’t just the “necessary” part of your life where you learn to become an adult or an accountant or a doctor, it is a part of your life just as much as elementary school was, and just as much as adulthood will be, so don’t rush through it only to wish that you had spent a little more time enjoying it.

Another piece of advice I would like to share about avoiding the ill-fated life of a docile body comes from what I’ve learned on my co-op experience at BioLinc. That is that, no matter what your discipline the possibilities are endless as to what you can achieve and where you may end up. Being in Neuroscience myself had me convinced that I had to follow either a research or medical oriented career path, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Working at BioLinc and seeing all these entrepreneurial people in the process of bringing their innovative ideas to life has really changed my life, and I don’t mean that in the cliché way that it sounds. It has really shown me that what you may have once thought of as “impossible” is most definitely possible when you surround yourself with the right people and that is exactly where I am at BioLinc. You have the ability to start whatever company, develop whatever product or provide whatever service you wish. You may not have learned directly how to do so, but that’s where the hidden skills university has taught you and collaboration come into play. We don’t have enough time to learn how to be a one-man-team, so network and keep your bridges well maintained because you never know when one of your connections will end up being the missing piece to your puzzle.

One more thing the members of BioLinc have taught me is to have faith in myself and my ideas. There is no skepticism here: “You have an idea? OK, lets see how to approach this and make it work”. They believe that no matter what your dream you shouldn’t be held back from giving it a shot and if it doesn’t work out you have only gained a valuable life experience. It is evident through the two projects I am now working on that they have inspired me beyond belief and for that I am grateful.

As a final note I’d like to say this:

There is more to university than grades and a degree. You have no set path in this world, as you are unique. Do not be held back by what you think society, professors, parents, friends or anyone else thinks you should do. You can truly achieve what ever it is you want if you are willing to go the distance; there is no goal too high, there is no dream too bold, so aim wherever you like, but there’s nothing stopping you from hitting the moon.

Ethan A. Foy, BSc Honours Neuroscience Co-op

BioLinc Ambassador

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My story at BioLinc and Turn180 – Diego Augusto de Moraes

When I came to Canada in January 2013, I didn’t realize that I was starting one of the most important phases of my life! Not only in my personal life, but professionally, I was about to grow so fast in my major. When I started my internship at BioLinc and Turn180, I was inserted in a new perspective. I worked with modeling for plastic injection and also some projects in the Turn180 shop, which included the use of 3D Printers. I know some of you are asking: “How did this work?” Well, let me tell you.

BioLinc is a business incubator that was established at Brock University by the Federal Government of Canada, and is managed by Dan Lynch, but they are so much more than that! They also support small companies by providing office and laboratory space and equipment, business assistance and counseling, professional network opportunities and interaction between student projects and companies!

The company Turn180 entered into a partnership with BioLinc, and they provided all of the support to develop my activities. Turn180 is a Custom Prototyping company situated in Vineland, approximately 15 kilometers from Brock. Rob DeVries and Susan DeVries founded the company. They develop Electronic Design, Mechanical Design, Rapid Prototyping, and Plastic Mold Injection as well! For this, they have a mill CNC center, a lathe, an injection machine, two 3D printers, two laser cut and updated CAD, CAM and electronic circuit simulation software.

During my internship term, I spent some days working in BioLinc, and other days I visited the Turn180 shop. I specifically focused on developing mechanical models for injection mold and 3D printer design. I also worked on machining and assembled molds for injection. Rob and Dan supervised all of my activities.

I am so proud that I had the opportunity to work with them during my internship term. I learned so many things that have helped me think outside the box in different ways, focused on results. Even now that my internship term has ended, we continue to have a good professional relationship! Thank you to everybody involved and I would like to say: let’s innovate!

Click here to see Diego’s pictures!

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Some advice for new/future University students – and a brief introduction about myself

I don’t want to bore readers with a blog aimed at introducing myself, so I will spare you the details and keep a long story short and quickly introduce myself; my name is Steve Karavos, I am a BBA Honours student at the Goodman School of Business, fortunate enough to have an opportunity to be involved in the co-op program, which is what brings me to the BioLinc blog.  I am the new BioLinc Ambassador; my role is essentially to handle student outreach (presentations, event help, etc.) and lend a hand wherever else I can to help spread the word about BioLinc.  The only thing that really comes to mind to talk about is any insight I can provide any current university students or future university students that may happen to stumble on to this blog.

The first thing that comes to mind is to stress the importance of taking advantage of any possibility of co-op.  If your program has the luxury of having a co-op option I can’t stress enough how valuable the experience will be.  Co-op work terms provide you with a huge advantage over other students, because you get the opportunity to experience real-life work positions prior to graduation, you gain work experience to put you one step ahead on your resume, and not to mention you are in a position to exit school with significantly less financial burden than you might otherwise be burdened with.  On top of all of these benefits co-op work terms also put you in a position to get comfortable with working in a professional environment, while creating future connections and further developing your professional work skills.  The list goes on and on to the benefits of co-op work terms and I urge anyone reading this to do whatever they can to make co-op part of their post-secondary education.

The next piece of advice I have is to create a good work-life balance.  No, you probably won’t ever establish the work-life balance that you dream about but I personally believe it’s very important to be able to experience both sides of university life.  Do what you need to do to get the marks you seek to achieve but take a breather and interact with those around you, whether that is through residence, clubs, intramurals, etc.   Besides obviously building strong friendships, the relationships you create here could easily be your best connections years down the road.  Even if you may be a shy person (I generally always have been) the best way to prepare yourself for your future professional career is to experience the uncomfortable situations early and as often as possible; you will eventually realize they’re not nearly as big of a deal as you may think and you will grow comfortable with them – public speaking is a great example.

The last piece of advice I’d really like to stress is: don’t be afraid to ask questions.  No matter where you need to look for answers, whether that is fellow students, professors, study groups, or any other resources, ask for clarification if you need it.  You could spend much more time trying to figure something out on your own than if you just ask questions, time that could be spent socializing, or on other work, it’s very important to manage your stress levels, and asking questions will help manage your stress levels.  Just be ready and willing to reciprocate!

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New Pathways opened by BioLinc

Many students enter University with the misconception that they are here to follow a fixed path that will lead them to a successful and fulfilling career. Step one: Get into University. Step two: obtain a degree. Step three: work for a large corporation. For me, like many science students, I had narrowed down my future plans to two pathways: graduate studies to engage in scientific research or apply for Medicine School to land a job in a Hospital. Those two options seemed to be the best places for someone with an interest in science and biology to be optimally used in society. I have never considered the possibility of Entrepreneurship in the biosciences until my first co-op work term position at BioLinc as a Student Ambassador.

BioLinc is a Bioscience Business Incubator Facility on campus, housed in the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Complex, Operated by the Goodman School of Business in partnership with Innovate Niagara. BioLinc provides Biotechnology driven start up companies a range of services that will allow them to grow and commercialize in the Niagara region. BioLinc aims to connect every private sector company with a researcher on campus through collaboration with Brock’s Office of Research Services.

I was very fortunate to have been exposed to the different research ideas that were occurring under one roof. Let me introduce two companies that will be residing in the incubator this year. First there is Exact Deliveries founded by Drew Marquardt in partnership with Professor Thad A. Harroun, a biophysical company conducting research on lipid technology for the purpose of generating revenue by patenting their research and selling the license to their intellectual property to pharmaceutical companies. Secondly there is Trivium Industries, a company started by David D’Angelo in partnership with Dr. Paul Zelisko. Trivium Industries is designing biodegradable packaging material, more specifically cosmetic bottles that will fully decompose a few days upon burial. Learning about these two companies and what their doing to improve and revolutionize health care and the environment not to mention the potential good it could do for the economy in the Niagara region, is a significant contribution to society that only the integration of Bioscience in business could accomplish.

What really interested me is the obvious contrast in the paths these two entrepreneurs took that eventually led them to the doorsteps of BioLinc with a Business plan at hand. Marquardt is a Brock physics PhD student with a passion for conducting multiple research projects at the same time. He was recently awarded the $20,000 W. Garfield Weston Fellowship in Entrepreneurialization in January. It is fascinating to me how Drew stayed clear from pursuing a position in a Research and Development department of a pharmaceutical company, instead he decided to capitalize on the Business resources offered at BioLinc and start his own company. David d’Angelo the CEO of Trivium, is a Brock Almuni (2012) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations.  He entered several business competitions here on Campus and end up winning The Nicol National Entrepreneurial Award Finalist 2012.

It is clear that both Drew and David differ in educational background but one thing that was common in both their stories is the concept of collaboration. Drew had an entrepreneurial spirit and was academically suited to conduct research but was lacking proper business education and experience, by working in the incubator Drew now has access to all the resources he will need for this business to grow including market intelligence and business consulting from the Goodman School of Business Consulting Group. On the other hand, David possessed the business skills but needed BioLinc to help him connect with a scientist, Paul Zelisko who can make his innovative idea plausible.

If there was anything that I really took out my experience here at BioLinc, I learned that no matter what path one decides to take, collaboration will always play a key role in success. Dan Lynch, Manager at BioLinc, has done an excellent job of instilling the concept of regarding relationships and connections formed in the incubator as people walking on a mobius strip, no matter how or where people walk along the path they will always be on the same side as you. So while I had first entered this work term fixated on on how to arrive at convocation night, I leave it with a more broadened perspective of what the future has to offer feeling very encouraged to collaborate more with others. It really all starts with an idea.

By no means am I encouraging students to drop everything and start a company. Rather I am encouraging students to keep an open mind. BioLinc offers full or part time students a safe place to be innovative and get involved in entrepreneurial projects as a co-curricular activity. So if an innovative idea happens to pop into your head, share it, take it to BioLinc and who knows a small project you do on the side could be exactly the work experience a student needs to beef up a resume or a project could even develop into a larger self sustaining company. What if you could come out of University with both a degree and an exciting job at a company that you have helped built. Possibilities are endless when you’re not afraid to connect, collaborate and commercialize.

Jazmine Rei Que

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Open for Innovation

Check out this poster around Brock’s campus for more information about BioLinc!

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