An average doctoral program lasts for five years, positioning the candidate as an innovator and expert in their field. After graduation, some become full professors while others are hired into managerial positions in industry. The rest get jobs that are not directly related to their fields or explore opportunities abroad.
In other words, much of the innovation in the lab is lost.
For doctors who wish to pursue an entrepreneurial rather than an academic path, the options are limited. Accelerator programs are mostly short term, which means they are not suited to scientific research which requires time for research and development as well as substantial funding.
“We found that many science startups led by PhDs needed a different kind of support tailored to their specific needs,” said Diana Horqque, Executive Director of V1 Studio.
Together with Concordia, District 3 Innovation Hub and Mitacs founded V1 Studio to fill the gaps and create a solid foundation for scientific entrepreneurial initiatives.
V1 Studio’s Scientific Venture Program, a two-year postdoctoral program aimed at strengthening bridges between the scientific and business innovation sectors, began in September, supporting four startups for its first cohort of 80 applicants.
“The right path for me was to advance my own doctoral research”
Ali Katal and Mohammad Mortezazadeh had very similar educational backgrounds. After completing a master’s degree in aerospace engineering followed by a doctorate in building and environmental engineering from Concordia, they were motivated by their entrepreneurial drive to start a business.
“We had the idea and the technology, but we lacked the tools to turn research into a tangible product,” says Katal, co-founder of Planete GreenLeaves, one of the early startups in the Scientific Venture Program.
“All of the programs we found were funding research of interest to the academic institution. While this option suited many applicants, I was convinced that the right path for me was to advance my own doctoral research.
What is the carbon footprint of your building? What are the effects of a heat wave on your city? These are the types of questions at the heart of the engineering duo’s daily work. Planete GreenLeaves is a web platform focused on building renovations, smart and energy efficient building design, and mitigation of extreme weather events.
With an advisory board organized for their specific industry, including Christian Bélanger, director of research for Hydro-Quebec, and Ben Lipowitz, vice-president of real estate services company JLL, the V1 Studio fellows are supported by funding as well as in-depth expertise of the companies concerned. leaders.
Ursula Eicker, founding co-director of Concordia’s Next-Generation Cities Institute and holder of the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities, is also a member of the Advisory Board.
Katal and Mortezazadeh are currently building the technology for the platform based on the city of Montreal and aim to expand to other major North American cities.
The Scientific Venture program isn’t just for Concordia graduates. Alejandra Huerta, Syed Taha Taqvi and Meysam Taghinasab are the other three members of this year’s cohort.
Huerta holds a PhD in organic chemistry from McGill University and his project is in wearable electronic cosmetics, while Taqvi holds a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Waterloo and works on a platform enabling businesses to transition their operations to greener alternatives. .
Taghinasab received his doctorate in plant-microbe interaction from the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. His project focuses on microbial agriculture to facilitate sustainable agriculture.
Paula Wood-Adams, acting vice president of research and graduate studies at Concordia, says the program is a way for the university and its partners to help develop future research and innovation capacities.
“Research can take many forms, and this program fills an important gap that exists for many recent doctoral students studying entrepreneurship. It offers unique support to emerging scientific innovators.
2021 startup community award
V1 Studio, District 3, Concordia and Mitacs were recently nominated for the Community Collaboration of the Year award at the 2021 Startup Community Awards for the Scientific Venture program. According to the awards site, “this award recognizes collaboration between two or more organizations that have had a significant impact on the community over the past year (initiative, activity, event)”.
Xavier-Henri Hervé (BEng 87, DSc 11), co-founder and board member of V1 Studio and co-founder and executive director of District 3, was nominated for the Community Champion of the Decade Award, which “ recognizes the person or organization who has demonstrated a significant and ongoing commitment to the success of the startup ecosystem.
The winners will be announced on December 3.
Registration is now open for the second cohort of the V1 Studio Scientific Venture program. Postdoctoral positions within Concordia are entirely dedicated to supporting doctoral students as they move from laboratory to entrepreneurship. Apply before December 2.
Learn more about the 2021 startup community award.