Sandboxes Launch Innovation Bootcamps

The NS Sandboxes have launched two innovation bootcamps this summer to introduce post-secondary students to the innovation process and support the advancement of project ideas through an immersive, cross-disciplinary approach. The bootcamps focus on three primary practices necessary to successful innovation: Design Thinking, Lean Canvas, and Agile Project Management.

PHASE 1: Introduction to Innovation

The Introduction to Innovation Bootcamp that took place in May, 2017 at Acadia University. Three StFX students participated in this opportunity; Iker, Yash, and Laura.

Iker Zulbaran and Yash Chacoory

Mexico & Mauritius

Enrolled Diploma in Engineering

Iker and Yash are two international students studying at StFX University completing their Diploma in Engineering.

The pair of budding entrepreneurs experienced a great deal of personal growth and development as a result of their participation in Phase 1 of the Innovation BootCamp program. Iker and Yash changed their business idea several times throughout the program before deciding on a portable disinfectant device.

Following the program, Iker and Yash intend on developing their product further with the advice and support of the Innovation and Enterprise Centre.

PHASE 2: Project Incubation

The Project Incubation Bootcamp is aimed at teams of up to 3 participants who are in the process of developing projects—including teams with high-potential project ideas who have completed the Introduction to Innovation Bootcamp that took place in May. 24 teams have been accepted and the program will be delivered out of each sandbox across the province. The sandboxes are located at Acadia, CBU, Dalhousie (Computer Science, Engineering, and the Agricultural Campus), StFX, and SMU. Through the collaborative nature of the NS Sandbox program, students from MSVU, NSCAD, and NSCC are also participating in the bootcamp.

In week 1, teams worked with their sandbox managers to establish a project baseline that includes an evaluation of the strengths/weaknesses of their project and the founding team members based on their backgrounds, skills and experience; a thorough review of their existing lean canvas; and the creation/assessment of their financial models. This baseline assessment will help identify required areas of support for teams as they work with mentors/advisors throughout the program.

In weeks 2 through 12 teams will be required to dedicate one full day per week to participate, in-person, in activities out of their home sandbox. Students are then required to work a minimum of 14 additional hours throughout the week on their project idea in a flexible schedule. Participants are paid for their time, at a rate equivalent to having a co-op job for 50% of the time.

In the last week of the program, all student teams will come together for a final project presentation and demo of their project to bootcamp stakeholders, judges, and potential investors. Judges will evaluate each presentation based on specific evaluation criteria and the most promising teams/ideas will receive a financial investment from a pooled $50,000 fund.

The desired outcome of this program is to create a working MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or prototype that effectively demonstrates advancement of the project measured at the start of the bootcamp. The end result should be strong, well-balanced teams with realistic business plans and demonstrable products that are better positioned to become successful social enterprises or business start-ups founded in Nova Scotia.

Laura MacAulay

Ottawa, ON

BSc Human Kinetics ‘17

Enrolled BSc Human Nutrition

Laura will be developing a customizable retreat for corporate business owners to send their teams and individuals to ‘play’ in a meaningful way through guided expeditions and nutrition skill building as a bridge to tap into their body-mind-spirit connections. This business will offer and educational experience that builds a community of like-minded individuals to nourish them in a way that allows them to return to work and their everyday lives inspired to live with more meaning and connectivity.

Laura has always had a passion for leading others to an understanding of the importance of exercise and nutrition in order to develop a healthy and productive mind. After losing a friend to mental illness, and experiencing other instances of poor mental health, she has a heightened desire to reverse the increase prevalence of mental illness. Laura sets out to have a positive impact on those struggling to see clarity in life.

This past year Laura was enrolled in two courses; Life, Games, and Leadership and Entrepreneurial Practices in Nutrition. These courses allowed her entrepreneurial spirit to emerge while sport philosophy’s game theory solidified the groundwork to her own life philosophy. By combining this with her own life experience will provide a powerful program that will have meaningful influence on other people’s lives.

After completing Phase 1 of the Innovation Bootcamp program, Laura was accepted into Phase 2 to continue developing her business over an additional 12 weeks.  Laura very much enjoyed the two week residency at Acadia University.  This experience helped to hone in on the important stages of ideation and incubation and the ability to pivot one’s idea and address the many points of divergence and convergence.

Laura has enjoyed learning from experienced and inspirational leaders in the business world as well as the exposure to strong mentors.

Carson Murray

Pictou, NS

Enrolled Diploma in Engineering

Carson is an inventor, aspiring entrepreneur, and award winning engineering student who wants to grow his new venture idea into a full company. He is from Nova Scotia and before coming to StFX managed operations for regional and provincial sailing schools and leadership conferences. As part of the Innovation BootCamp, Carson will be further developing his company, Podeko ARS, which he began through the Wallace Family Internship in 2016.

Podeko ARS is an advanced recycling company; it takes single serving coffee pods and through a proprietary process turns them into enhanced bioreactor feedstock, 3D-printer filament, and recycled aluminum. Until now, this waste stream has not been able to be truly recycled.

The company’s few competitors either down-cycle them into non-recyclable products, or more often burns them in waste to energy plants. Keurig alone sends approximately 10,000,000,000 pods – and growing – to landfill annually. This Northern Nova Scotia venture’s objective is to be the primary diverter and recycler for this waste stream in Atlantic Canada. Eventually the firm plans on franchising the intellectual property of their process to other districts and countries as demand dictates. This technology can also use other available sources of coffee and plastic to continue producing filament and fertilizer in the event of supply instability.