Interview with Laura Yu – SOSCIP’s New Business Development Director

What makes you excited about being part of Ontario’s innovation ecosystem?
I am excited to be part of Ontario’s innovation ecosystem because it is such a fast-paced environment where you get to work with a lot of intelligent people and all of the ecosystem’s partners collaborate to help support our tech companies, innovators, and entrepreneurs. It is great to see everyone is in this together. It is also very satisfying to see the companies grow and excel through all their hard work and to recognize that you were one of the catalysts that supported them on their journey to success.

 

How will Mitacs & SOSCIP work together to benefit the innovation ecosystem in Ontario?
The resources available through Mitacs and SOSCIP complement each other very well. Mitacs allow companies to collaborate with our leading researchers and gain access to talent. Simultaneously, SOSCIP provides computing resources that may be too expensive for companies to acquire themselves or by other means, thereby enabling them to de-risk their technology cost prior to making a capital investment. Students supported by

Mitacs get exposed to real-world industry problems that allow them to apply their technical knowledge as well as other soft skills like communications through interaction with the industry partner. Overall, Mitacs and SOSCIP are two great resources that are valuable components of Ontario’s continued ability to be a leader in new technology and innovation.

 

What do you think the future of innovation in Ontario & Canada will look like?
Ontario and Canada continue to be a hot spot for innovation and technology development. We are at the forefront of many technology areas, like AI, healthcare, manufacturing, mining, and aerospace, to name a few. Our institutions are also strong at developing globally sought-after talent. It is essential to retain this talent in Ontario and Canada to help our companies grow, prosper, and remain competitive globally.

I believe there is no better time for innovation than now. While companies are struggling to recover from the pandemic, companies who are actively pursuing R&D and innovation will come out of the pandemic stronger. Programs like Mitacs, SOSCIP, OCE, and NSERC are resources that companies can leverage to support their R&D efforts.

With the recent announcement from the Federal Government for $40M to Mitacs to further support talent development and provincial support to protect IP and keep it in Ontario, the future of innovation in Ontario and Canada looks very promising. Government support like the ones I just mentioned is core to Ontario and Canada’s continued recognition as leaders in new technology development. Moreover, these sorts of initiatives have shown themselves attractive to technology companies who want to set up in Ontario. Google, GM, JLabs of J&J being well-known examples of high-tech companies setting up offices and R&D in Ontario because of our top-notch talent.

 

What kind of AI/Data Science related projects have you worked on in the past?

I have worked on several AI/Data Science/Blockchain related projects in the past. There are two that stand out in my memory. One was a spin-off company from Ryerson, where the company had a technology based on predictive analytics to help financial professionals make better investment decisions. The product recognizes patterns in a time series data based on historical data sets. I worked with this company to help strategize their first seed fundraising venture. Of course, the technology has applications beyond the financial sector. And this was before AI was even a buzz word.

The other company is an identity and access management company. The company has grown organically and hired many Masters and Ph.D. graduates from Ontario with expertise in cryptography and cybersecurity. The company has developed a technology based on Hyperledger that allows patients to share their medical data to their healthcare circle with a touch on their mobile device. One can imagine the possibility of this technology being applied to our everyday lives – from authorizing the government to share our data with the bank for a loan to something as simple as proving our age.