Cultivating an entrepreneurial ecosystem at McMaster
By: Danelle D'Alvise, Research Communications
October 14, 2014
Patents, trademarks, copyright and licensing technologies – part of the standard mission of university liaison offices across Canada.
While the services and processes that link industry with a university’s expertise might seem cut-and-dried, Gay Yuyitung – recently appointed executive director of the McMaster Industrial Liaison Office (MILO) – sees a bigger picture where all the pieces of the technology transfer puzzle are connected and interrelated.
Yuyitung has been with MILO for twelve years, serving in progressive roles where she’s managed invention disclosures, evaluated new disclosures for licensing, and assisted with McMaster spin off companies. In that time, she’s seen hundreds of enterprising campus innovators from faculty, research staff and students come through MILO’s doors for advice on how to interact with industry to move their technologies and discoveries – from their labs, centres, classrooms and hospitals – to the marketplace and the world of new products, materials, processes and jobs.
“While licensing and revenue generation are incredibly important, and our focus is very much on ensuring our researchers are outward facing with business and industry, MILO also educates, provides legal support and guidance, offers business advice, and assesses the commercialization potential of McMaster innovators’ technologies, inventions and services,” says Yuyitung. “It’s about putting all of the critical pieces together so that we have an entrepreneurial ecosystem that thrives by making the best use of the research community’s innovations.”
Yuyitung points to the McMaster Innovation Showcase – MILO’s annual flagship event now in its seventh year – as a key initiative organized to help the research community create a culture of innovation and commercialization.
This year’s Showcase takes place on November 12 at the McMaster Innovation Park and features: a poster competition for inventions and discoveries with commercial potential; a round table highlighting trends in entrepreneurship, community engagement and innovation models that can enhance collaborations between the university, industry and community; innovator and patent awards; ‘open doors’ at the McMaster Innovation Park and CANMET; a keynote from Mike Kirkup, Director of the VeloCity program at the University of Waterloo; as well as the all-important networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, industry and government representatives, and academic researchers who are developing and commercializing new technologies.
“We’re taking this opportunity to connect the innovative ideas and research of McMaster faculty and students to people who are equally passionate about transforming ideas and services,” says Yuyitung. “MILO has become increasingly involved with our student entrepreneurs and at this year’s Lion’s Lair competition the top three places – which garnered the winners almost $140,000 in prize money – were start-ups that had received guidance and advice from MILO through different iterations of their product concepts.”
“Whether it’s students creating a unique app or novel product, or faculty who’ve developed a leading edge technology, McMaster is recognized as a high performing innovation hub,” says Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, research and international affairs. “Gay Yuyitung has a clear vision of how she wants to lead MILO to ensure that McMaster’s enterprising research community is fully supported, from concept to commercialization. I’m so pleased she’s accepted the role of Executive Director and excited about McMaster’s future entrepreneurial initiatives.”