What kind of expertise are you bringing to the network?
I did my BSc (Honours) specializing in behavioural neuroscience and continued with this academic path through completing a PhD in medicine, specializing in neurology and neuroscience. My research during my PhD focused on Alzheimer’s and dementia models, looking at the cellular and molecular biology and potential drug targets for those diseases.
During this time, through collaboration and professional shadowing, I expanded my interests from research and teaching, to project creation and structuring and the funding and partnership models required to bring research projects to fruition. Later on in my career, I became more interested in the business development and commercialization activities, where I decided to couple my research and development experience with business education through completing my MBA.
What sparked that interest?
I saw a lot of industry collaborations in fields like biotech and medicine and I wanted to examine the expanded options outside of discovery grant funding through industry collaborations and partnerships.
I gravitated towards researchers who had success with industry collaborations to see how they were successful. I did that with the expectation of going into research full-time but when I started looking into how the university partners with industry, it sparked another career interest, which I pursued through an opportunity with Genesis Research.
I initially planned that I would only do that for a short period of time, gaining diversified experience with intellectual property and how to strategically manage it. However, I got more involved with deal flow, contract negotiations and financial modelling around strategic deals, and this increased my interest and lead me to enroll into the MBA program. During my MBA, I focused on finance, business development and entrepreneurship, which I still have an incredible interest in today, while broadening my horizons through learning about predictive modeling and analytics.
How do you bring those interests to Memorial?
Memorial University has been going through some changes recently in how it focuses on its industry applied research opportunities and how it handles its intellectual property development. Through this time, I managed to help shape an office and role within the university that really suites my interests and expertise through marrying my passions for research and development and business development and commercialization.
Memorial University has incredible strengths with working with industry, but there were research areas that were not a focus or thought of as applicable to these potential opportunities. It has been rewarding to broaden the scope of research at the university that is applicable to industry. I feel that this office and role will always be looking at its own strengths and weaknesses to try to increase efficiency and optimization of capturing strategic opportunities.
What do you find rewarding about this work?
It is a long process when you try to develop these projects, but it is so rewarding when you find that niche of a win-win relationship between a university research team and a company, which results in a successful collaboration and partnership.
I also get a lot of exposure to diverse networks in academia and industry. I am an outgoing extroverted person, so I enjoy being around people, meeting new people and hearing different points of view, which I get a lot of with this type of work.
What are the challenges?
Newfoundland and Labrador is often seen as an isolated island in the North Atlantic with limited opportunities. Though we as a province try to break from these misconceptions, this province has felt closed off and forgotten in past decades. People do not fully understand the vast amount of innovative research and business opportunities that we have here. So, getting past those misconceptions and barriers and promoting our business and research and development opportunities has been really rewarding.
What does Springboard bring to the table for you?
The Springboard network is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Being exposed to the rest of the Atlantic Canadian region and what they are accomplishing in innovative research and partnerships has really impressed and motivated me. It’s helped mature my thought processes and to look at things from a different provincial view point (ie. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI).,
The Springboard Network has also helped me realize how much the Atlantic Canadian provinces have in common and how much we can compliment and add value to each others’ opportunities. The network also gives us the ability to meet industry’s research needs one way or another. As an example, I find it very rewarding knowing that if I am dealing with a company that Memorial University doesn’t have the right research expertise to meet their needs, than I have a significant network of institutions and people that I can work with to make sure that that company gets their needs taken care of.
How has Springboard benefitted Memorial?
It has driven growth and opportunity. We’ve had things happen with industry that we weren’t fully engaged with before but became connected through the network. It has exposed us to a wealth of information on what is going on in a number of sectors, that we may not have had insight into before. Overall, we are capturing and driving opportunities that wouldn’t have been a focal point if it wasn’t for the Springboard Network.
The Springboard Network is incredibly strong and we as members are much further ahead from an educational and developmental point of view. If we were all acting individually, we would probably have a lot of holes in the Atlantic Canadian net in capturing these opportunities and driving growth.