What do you get when you combine an engineer’s creative, critical thinking with entrepreneurial acumen?
“Technopreneurs”—a new breed of startup-savvy scientists coming out of Techno, the four-week summer incubator program offered by U of T’s Impact Centre.
The latest Techno cohort recently presented their startup concepts at the close of the fifth annual workshop, and the event included four innovative startups from U of T Engineering alumni and students.
“Each participant comes with their own academic and technical expertise,” said Cynthia Goh, director of the Impact Centre. “Over the course of Techno, we work with everyone to ensure that the market they have chosen is one where they can have an impact.”
One of several incubator programs offered by the University of Toronto, the Techno program gives technology-minded entrepreneurs the tools to continue building, developing and launching a dynamic startup grounded in their research or thesis work. They’ve helped more than 50 companies translate innovative research into commercially viable startups since its formation in 2010.
Take a look at four engineering startups that participated in this year’s Techno:
Hacking dusty, dirty solar panel problems – CleanMePV
Solar panels are a great energy option for homes and businesses in and around Saudi Arabia. But when a dust storm sweeps in and covers the panels with sand, there’s up to a 50 per cent reduction in efficiency. CleanMePV is developing a mechanical device to effectively clean these solar panels. Their product requires no water (a precious resource in the desert), does not scratch the panel surface and can be cleaned panel-by-panel rather than in only set shapes of panel-arrays. Ahmed Balawi (MSE MASc 1T4), the entrepreneur behind it, is also thinking ahead as to whether this device could also work for snow.
New tools for teaching young engineers – Illuster Tech
The University of Toronto lined up as the first customer for this educational platform that, according to Richard Medal (ECE 1T2 + PEY), Mehrad Mashayehi (ECE 1T2 + PEY) and Miad Fard (MASc ECE 1T5, ECE 1T2 + PEY)—the alumni founders behind it—transforms the way students learn electronics. Their package of printed circuit boards, combined with software and a PDF instruction manual, is now being used by more than 400 students as their introduction to electronics, updating their hands-on learning from decades-old and obsolete ‘bread boards’ to industry-standard circuit boards. (Read more about Illuster Tech)
Simulating human tissue in a petri dish – RHEO Biotech
During Oleg Chebotarev’s (MechE MASc 1T2) master’s research, he developed a tool that simulates human tissue and blood. He now wants to take his technology beyond the lab and help pharmaceutical companies reduce the development costs for new drugs by reducing the need for costly animal and human testing. In recognition of the commercial potential of his work, Chebotarev was recently awarded a $32,000 U of T Heffernan Commercialization Fellowship, which supports researchers turning technologies developed in university labs into businesses.
A new way to look at welding – Enceladus Imaging
You know that bright halo of light and sparks that explode when a piece of metal is being welded? PhD student Jason Huang (ECE PhD 1T4, ECE MASc 1T3, ECE BASc 0T9) and the team at Enceladus Imaging have developed a camera that allows users to see both this welding arc as well as the seam of the weld they are working on. Enceladus’ camera combines dynamic range imaging with high speed photography to help users make clean, precise welds and reduces the need to expose inspectors to the dangerous working space in automated welding facilities. (Read more about Enceladus Imaging)
Don’t miss the public TechnoShowcase at the MaRS Discovery District on November 5.