- Summer 2021
- Spring 2021
- Fall 2020
- Summer 2020
- New hands-on course has SFU students organizing second annual Skoden Indigenous Film Festival
- SFU alum Michael Cheng's venture Sniply acquired in multi-million dollar deal
- Inspired, magical, connected: How virtual reality can make you well
- #Fakenews is being used to discredit mainstream media coverage of the Canadian election
- Scant evidence of active Twitter bots as Canadian election kicks off
- Russian Twitter trolls stoke anti-immigrant lies ahead of Canadian election
- Medical crowdfunding supports the wealthy and endangers privacy – here’s how to make it more ethical
- How journalists can rebut Trump’s ‘fake news’ claims
- The counter-intuitive solution to getting people to care about climate change
- Drop the doom and gloom: Climate journalism is about empowerment
- Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
- Communications professor Adel Iskandar embraces storytelling and active dialogue
- Social media during a crisis and how we stay connected
- SFU alumni contributing to the fight against COVID-19
- Four tips for enriching your long-distance connection with family and friends
- Amanda’s adventures in academia yield first PhD in publishing in North America
- Fall 2019
- Summer 2019
- Spring 2019
- Fall 2018
- Summer 2018
- Spring 2018
- Fall 2017
- Spring 2017
- Fall 2016
- Summer 2016
- Spring 2016
- Fall 2015
- Summer 2015
- Spring 2015
- Fall 2014
- Summer 2014
- Spring 2014
- Fall 2013
- News archive
- Future students
- Current students
- Get involved
School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Technology & Society, engagement
SFU alumni contributing to the fight against COVID-19
Eugene Suyu, co-founder and CEO of 3D printing firm Tinkerine, is a proud Simon Fraser University alumnus who is helping to fight COVID-19. The company has produced thousands of face shields, which guard against the transmission of the deadly novel coronavirus.
“Since we have the ability, we should be using our strengths to benefit society and take some social responsibility,” says Suyu, who graduated from SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).
The team started producing about 240 face shields a day but after some considerable retooling of the business they were able to increase production to 1,000 face shields per day. Tinkerine now has capacity to produce 20,000 face shields per week.
The company’s clientele is all frontline essential workers from family physicians, long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical storefronts bundled with grocery stores to government and provinces across Canada. The team has received an outpouring of gratitude from the frontline essential workers. “They've let us know that the face shields provide both comfort and safety that other goggles alone don't provide,” says Suyu.
The team has also received positive feedback from the general public and community. “They are really happy to know that there is a B.C. company stepping up to manufacture face shields locally.”
Suyu first became interested in 3D printing when he was a student at SFU. “I had taken a course with SIAT instructor Ken Zupan, who introduced us to 3D printing and encouraged us to make something, and from the moment I did, I wanted one,” recalls Suyu.
A 3D printer came with a hefty price tag, so he and a group of SIAT students decided to build their own. Their efforts resulted in the creation of Tinkerine. “We didn’t start off aiming to go into business," Suyu recalls. “We were keenly interested in applying everything we learned at school to successfully build a 3D printer, that was our end goal, but it just grew from there.”
Innovation is needed in times of crisis
Sarah Lubik, executive director of the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, says innovation-based small businesses like Tinkerine are well-suited for a time like this because they are nimble and can adapt their capabilities to changing needs.
She points to a 2015 Deloitte study which highlights that most Canadian companies are not prepared for a significant disruption. No matter what type of disruption they face, companies need to be adaptable to survive and thrive in our ever-changing world.
“It’s a significant part of why we are so focused at SFU on amplifying the entrepreneurial mindset: the ability to be empathetic, confident, resilient and to create opportunities in the face of change,” she says.
How companies can become more innovative
Lubik says companies can become more adaptable by:
1. Stepping back, critically assessing what they think the next three months, six months, year might look like for them, their customers and their communities
2. Building resilience into their business model by proactively and honestly identifying their weaknesses and know which strengths can be doubled down or redeployed in new ways or towards new opportunities and emerging needs.
3. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset. This means fostering a company culture that focusing on creativity, collaboration, confidence and tolerance of ambiguity. Then, involving the team in the processes of problem solving and becoming more versatile.
She says business leaders, students and managers can view this pandemic as a lesson that we can use to become more entrepreneurial throughout Canadian society.
“This pandemic may spur the businesses that survive to be more future-focused, to take more proactive steps to create resilient business models and adaptive strategies,” says Lubik.
Suyu agrees that businesses should incorporate adaptability, innovation and desire to create a positive impact on the world into their mission statement.
“In moments of crisis like what we are facing today, it’s important to see where the company's strengths are, move accordingly and let that process guide where you go,” he says. “Sometimes the question can be simply, ‘how can we help?’”