The University of New Brunswick’s Digital Innovation Summit showcases groundbreaking solutions and entrepreneurial spirit, driving economic growth and collaboration.
In the last decade, the University of New Brunswick (UNB) has truly become a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship — something that was on full display in early June at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews.
More than 100 entrepreneurs, university researchers, students, and government officials gathered there for the second annual Digital Innovation Summit. The conference was organized by the UNB McKenna Institute, which was founded in 2021 by former premier and current deputy chair of TD Securities Frank McKenna to promote and advance innovative digital solutions that grow the economy in the province.
A longstanding entrepreneurial spirit
The conference and common rooms of the Algonquin Resort, a grand seaside hotel, buzzed with energetic conversations about digital innovations in sectors as diverse as farming, insurance, forestry, food production and distribution, and hardware and software development.
The entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the university isn’t a recent phenomenon. Its computer science program is the oldest of its kind in Canada and has been partnering with the private and public sectors for decades, with its coop program celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The university has also played an important role in incubating and nurturing entrepreneurs and successful companies like Q1 Labs, Radian6, and Beauceron Security. In each case, the people involved were changemakers developing innovative solutions for consumers, companies, institutions, and governments.
UNB is moving quickly to respond to emerging partnership opportunities within its own walls and with external players in the private and public sectors. The McKenna Institute is but one of a growing list of entrepreneurial programs and centres which includes the Pond-Deshpande Centre, the J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship, the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity, the Integrated Health Initiative (which will soon be home to a new centre), and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering.
Solving problems and pursuing opportunities
All these centres and institutes nurture entrepreneurial solutions to economic and social challenges, and the participating researchers are highly skilled and eager to engage with outside partners that come to them with problems to solve and opportunities to pursue.
The Institute of Biomedical Engineering recently tackled one challenge that was particularly inspiring and had an innovative solution. Troy Chapman had lost an arm and asked the institute team to help develop a myoelectric removable prosthetic.
“I’m very independent. I do all of my own automotive work and construction work,” says Chapman. “What makes a lot of that possible is that I have an upper limb that’s functioning and a team that went the extra step to make it work for me.”
Heather Daley, Research Prosthetist at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, says their work requires them to be problem-solvers. “We’re definitely required to be innovative and creative,” she says. “There’s no off-the-shelf solution.”
There are no problems or challenges too large or too small for the researchers, centres, and institutes at UNB, and the innovative solutions are found in venues as varied as university labs and hotel conference rooms at local resorts.
To learn more, visit unb.ca/innovation-entrepreneurship.