At the Clinic, MBA students help researchers take their work to market

Head and shoulders picture of Stephanie Ebreo

DeGroote MBA student Stephanie Ebreo helped create a website to expand McMaster physician Tapas Mondal’s reach. Mondal developed sensory feedback technology that gives people training to perform CPR immediate feedback on their compressions.

Helping pre-term babies breathe. Building a “smart” mannequin for teaching CPR. Creating new opportunities for drug repurposing. Using bacteria to test for gold.

How do researchers take good ideas to market? Since opening in January at the DeGroote School of Business’ Ron Joyce Centre, the Clinic has been helping them do exactly that.

Overseen by Goran Calic, assistant professor of strategic management, the Clinic is designed to help commercialize  McMaster University’s vast repository of research, by pairing faculty and staff with ambitious, highly skilled MBA candidates.

“I’ve always longed for a truly hands-on experiential course where you can deliver real value and define success on your own terms,” says DeGroote MBA candidate Farhan Quazi.

He worked alongside McMaster engineering professor Ravi Selvaganapathy and pediatrics professor emeritus Christoph Fusch, who are developing a membrane that is more than three times more efficient than existing technologies when it comes to  oxygenating blood. This is crucial for premature babies, who need help breathing effectively because they are born before their lungs fully develop.

DeGroote MBA candidate Farhan Quazi was an inaugural member.

Quazi was able to connect the researchers with two key stakeholders – the CEO of the only extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) manufacturer in Canada, as well as the vice-president of operations at a medical device company. The latter is acting as an adviser on approval procedures.

“The goal was to deliver a tangible outcome that could potentially make a really big difference,” Quazi says. “I was able to work with real-world innovators and learn as much as I possibly could, while using my experiences and expertise to further their mission.”

Karen Leung joined the Clinic because she wants scientists and researchers to focus their efforts on discovering and creating great things. She worked with former McMaster PhD research fellow Morgan Wyatt – now CEO of Greenlid Envirosciences – on commercializing a new testing method for gold.

They are using the bacterium delftibactin, which binds to gold and expresses itself by turning black, to create a testing strip that can detect trace amounts of gold in soil and crushed rock samples. The method could also be used in electronics recycling and clearing oil sands tailings ponds, Leung explains.

“This has been a great opportunity to meet like-minded, innovative people and work together on an entrepreneurial project,” says Leung, who collaborated with fellow MBA candidate Ryan Baker on the project.

MBA students Stephanie Ebreo, Nicole Verni and Jessica Fares worked with McMaster pediatrician Tapas Mondal to help further his vision of providing worldwide CPR training.

Mondal recently invented sensory feedback technology that, when connected to a CPR mannequin, provides end users with immediate feedback regarding the rate and depth of their compressions. His initial efforts have been focused in rural communities in India.

“We decided to expand Dr. Mondal’s reach through a global website,” Ebreo says. “The website includes training and education videos, an e-commerce platform to purchase the mannequins, and means to donate to his work.”

Additionally, the student team developed a procurement list that included more cost-effective mannequin options that Mondal could leverage once the project gains momentum.

Like many of her peers, MBA candidate Deanna Betts says she joined the Clinic to apply what she has learned in the real world.

Along with fellow students Meaghan Disher-Byles and Abid Syed, she was involved in a project led byMcMaster respirologist Jeremy Hirota, exploring compounds that can be used in novel ways or repurposed to treat respiratory diseases.

Her team looked at how a company could be structured to derive value from this process, as well as different sources of data that could be used.

“The Clinic is unique, and I viewed it as an opportunity to make a real difference,” Betts says.

This article appeared on the DeGroote School of Business website. Find it and other articles here.

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