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