Colourful innovation wins $25,000

Winning Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative team improves 3D printer’s ability to print in colour

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Supplied by Alex Pickering

The winners of this year’s Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative (QSII) created an addition to the consumer 3D printer, improving its ability to print in colour.

QSII is a 16-week intensive program that allows students the opportunity to become entrepreneurs.

A joint initiative between the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Queen’s School of Business, participating students have access to seminars, workshops and hands-on mentorship — all of which help them in designing and marketing their product.

This year’s winning team, Mosaic Manufacturing, stood out from the rest of the competition with their addition to consumer 3D printers that improves their ability to print in colour.

QSII which began the summer of 2012, is a way for students to accomplish their entrepreneurial goals, as well as develop as business people, innovators and leaders.

At the end of the program, each group must present their company to a panel of judges, and the winning team receives $25,000 to expand their business. Greg Bavington, who oversees QSII and is the executive director of the Queen’s Innovator Connector (QIC), was happy with the results of this year’s program.

“The competition this year was staggering,” he said.

“Putting the nine teams in any order you’d like, top to bottom, that ninth place team’s work was still head and shoulders above any team I’ve seen in the past.” The goal of the program is to help Queen’s students prepare for the fast-changing needs of the current market.

“We’re now at a point where extremely successful technologies can be eclipsed in a matter of years, or even months,” he said.

“That means we have to be less wedded to a technology, you need a portable skill set — which has to include understanding commercial aspects, not just technical aspects.” Bavington emphasized the importance of teamwork and diversity within the groups in this initiative.

“Everyone who is involved in the program feels very strongly about successful teams needing diversity among their members,” he said. “There’s a tendency for people to be around like-minded people — that’s not necessarily great for business.”

It is important for Queen’s students to be prepared for the needs of Canadian society once they graduate, Bavington said.

“Queen’s mandate has always been to prepare people to be successful, to serve Canadian society — and what Canadian society needs has shifted quite a bit. It needs people with transferable skills, people who are adaptable.”

QSII is unusual among entrepreunerial programs — it’s a paid internship.

The teams also receive $2,500 to create their company, something both Bavington and Chris Labelle, a member of Mosaic Manufacturing, referenced.

“One of the important things for us was that we were given access to the Queen’s prototyping labs. QIC also set all of the QSII teams up with $2,500 worth of seed funding with which to start our businesses,” Labelle, Comm ’14, told the Journal via email.

Most important for Mosaic Manufacturing, however, was the emphasis on teamwork.

“The most beneficial resource that QSII gave us was the ability to form our team,” he said.

“Everyone involved in QSII wanted to take a shot at being an entrepreneur, and being in that environment, being around people who had the same interests was what enabled us to create the product that we did,” he added.

Labelle praised the program for its goal of helping students, and the fact that they’re expanding each year.

“I think QIC is improving the initiative every year,” he said.

“The program is accessible to any student at Queen’s, and they’ve done a great job attracting top-tier mentors to the program.”

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