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Focus on Leadership University of Calgary initiative helps research bloom

Dr. William A. Ghali, vice-president of research at the University of Calgary.
Photo credit: Christina Ryan © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Plant a seed and watch innovation grow.

It’s a catchy formula that sums up a new initiative at the University of Calgary to ensure good research translates into meaningful change in the world.

The newly launched funding program called UCeed is starting with $10 million — thanks to the generous support of the River Fund at Calgary Foundation and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

What’s more, the innovation and entrepreneurship fund is now a key piece of a broader effort at the post-secondary institution to build out its innovation ecosystem.

“The idea of the innovation ecosystem is to simultaneously support researchers at the University of Calgary who have developed technology- or innovation-based solutions to create companies and economic growth that will improve life in our city and beyond,” says Dr. William A. Ghali, vice-president of research at the University of Calgary.

UCeed works much like how it sounds. It provides pre-seed and seed funding to help new research grow into commercially viable technologies, ventures, and/or services that can have a positive impact.

The program is divided into two funds: the Opportunity Fund and Growth Fund.

The Opportunity Fund provides up to $150,000 per project in early stage development while the Growth Fund offers up to $300,000 for initiatives further along in commercialization.

Launched in June, UCeed is an exciting addition to an ecosystem that includes research hubs both on and off campus. These include the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, located at the university. Its aim is educating students, faculty and staff in entrepreneurship.

The ecosystem also encompasses Innovate Calgary, the innovation transfer and business incubator that helps researchers bring their ideas to market.

Also included is the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) — Rockies.

“That’s a Calgary-based entity affiliated with CDLs in Toronto, Atlantic Canada and Vancouver,” Ghali says. “It brings together business leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to help grow scalable tech companies.”

The goal, initially, is for UCeed to expand health-care innovation developed at the university.

“In principle, we want recipients to go far and reach new heights after tapping the funding,” Ghali says.

It also serves as one of the final initiatives supported by UCalgary’s Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High, a funding drive launched on the university’s 50th anniversary in 2016 to make the institution one of Canada’s top research centres.

“Energize has raised more than $1.3 billion, making it one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in Canadian history.”

Ghali further adds UCeed will serve as part of the ongoing legacy of this community support, continuing to pay dividends for the community long into the future.

“With UCeed, we now have the mandate to turn the generous philanthropy of our community into better education and world-class research, helping advance not just the well-being of Calgarians, but for Canada and hopefully the world as a whole.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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