l-r: Julius Michael, Eunice Kuatsjah and William Brenner of Orello Hearing Technologies, and Don Coulter, President and CEO of Coast Capital Savings. Not pictured: Cynthia Su, Abdul Smazov, Ali Warraich and Chingiz Jakubaliyev.

ED Blog

Driving innovation beyond the 'lightbulb' at SFU

February 20, 2017

Last week I had the good fortune to watch a stream of great ideas flow through the room at Borden Ladner Gervais in Vancouver, where the sixth annual Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize competition unfolded.

Touted as SFU’s biggest entrepreneurship competition, these were the top entries, all brilliantly conceived and convincingly pitched, and shortlisted from a record 45 entries this year. All of these “what-ifs?” had been carefully thought out, developed to some stage and even mentored through support systems right here at SFU – the highly successful Venture Connection program among them.

This year’s winner, Orello Hearing Technologies Inc, was developed by SFU Surrey campus students who conceived their product while studying in the Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU program. And that’s just one of myriad ideas taking root in this ambitious program, which combines our popular Mechatronic Systems Engineering program with our Beedie Business school savvy, laying a perfect path from idea to commercialization.

What’s most impressive is that our programs, support mechanisms and even competitions are growing momentum behind the notion that ‘the sky’s the limit’ when it comes to creativity and making the best of those lightbulb moments. It’s impressive to see , through events like the Venture Prize, how innovation is ingrained across the University and especially here at the Surrey campus, where our community partnerships are opening new opportunities to innovate in such vital areas as clean energy, health and social innovation. It’s great to see how students, as well as staff and faculty, are driving innovation beyond that light bulb.

My congratulations to Orello, which aims to have its specialized hearing aid product out later this year (check them out here), and to all of those who shared in the more than $32,000 in prizes handed out last week. And special thanks to Coast Capital, whose support for innovation at SFU continues to help drive that spark for new ideas and success for new ventures.

Steve Dooley
Executive Director, SFU's Surrey Campus