Hacking Food: U of T initiative tackles food security in Canada’s largest city

Imagine if Toronto became the first large city in the world where everyone could access healthy, delicious, affordable food within walking distance 365 days a year.

Recently, U of T students, faculty and staff, and community partners came together to make the first steps of that vision a reality through a two-day “Hacking Food” event.

Professor Cynthia Goh named academic director of U of T Entrepreneurship

Professor M. Cynthia Goh, scientist, educator and serial entrepreneur, has been selected as the inaugural academic director for the University of Toronto’s Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (BBCIE).

“The world has changed, and while we provide an excellent fundamental education, our students could use more,” said Goh.“U of T needs to be the leader in training and inspiring our world-class students to use their talents to reach out and create an impact.

“Entrepreneurial skills are not just for building a company. In creating this new position, the university recognizes that we want to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and a culture of innovation in our students because these are crucial elements for their future.”

This global affairs course lets U of T students develop actual government policies

It’s not unusual for university students to develop proposals for governments or businesses as part of their classwork. It’s less usual for those organizations to actually implement such policies.

But that’s what will happen for at least two student groups in Dan Breznitz’s Innovation, Institutions, Governments and Growth class at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

Federal government backs three U of T startups and their clean tech innovations

Thee U of T startups are among 36 projects from across the country receiving funding from the federal government in support of their clean technology innovations.

Nanoleaf, QD Solar and ARDA Power Inc. received a total of almost $6 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a governmental foundation which helps clean tech entrepreneurs commercialize their products by removing the funding barrier that hinders so many high potential startups.

‘Person-on-a-chip’ — U of T engineers create lab-grown heart and liver tissue for drug testing and more

Researchers at U of T Engineering have developed a new way of growing realistic human tissues outside the body. Their “person-on-a-chip” technology, called AngioChip, is a powerful platform for discovering and testing new drugs, and could eventually be used to repair or replace damaged organs.

Professor Milica Radisic (IBBME, ChemE), graduate student Boyang Zhang and their collaborators are among those research groups around the world racing to find ways to grow human tissues in the lab, under conditions that mimic a real person’s body. They have developed unique methods for manufacturing small, intricate scaffolds for individual cells to grow on. These artificial environments produce cells and tissues that resemble the real thing more closely than those grown lying flat in a petri dish.

Robotic Rehab: Startup helps kids with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy, which can affect a person’s body movement and muscle coordination, is one of the most common congenital disorders of childhood. Research has shown that walking can help facilitate neuro-development in kids with the condition, but there are few inexpensive ways to do this. A new start-up at U of T is working to make robotic rehabilitation more affordable and accessible to children with cerebral palsy.Manmeet Maggu, an MBA candidate in Entrepreneurial Studies at the Rotman School of Management is one of the inventors of a rehabilitative exoskeleton called ReX, which is being developed with the support of two U of T-based accelerators. He recently spoke with Faculty of Medicine writer Erin Howe about the device.

Multidisciplinary capstone project: App helps firefighters track hazard exposure

Smartphones could soon join axes, ladders and helmets as indispensable tools of the firefighting trade, thanks to a group of recent graduates from U of T Engineering. While still undergraduate students, they developed an app that can help firefighters take control of their health by tracking the hazards they are exposed to as part of their jobs.

“A fire at an old industrial warehouse could release asbestos, or chemicals that are either carcinogenic themselves, or generate carcinogenic byproducts,” says Professor Graeme Norval(ChemE), an expert on chemical safety. “The challenge is: if somebody’s health deteriorates, how do you determine if it’s a workplace effect or not?”

Meet three robots engineered at U of T that could improve — or save — your life

“After the computer and the smartphone, robotics is the next big technology that will change our lives,” Professor Goldie Nejat (MIE) told a hushed crowd of 12 journalists assembled in her lab. “We focus on developing the intelligence and interactive capabilities of robots.”

The group visited three labs in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering on Monday, March 1 to learn about the University of Toronto’s expertise in robotics and automation, part of a four-day tour organized by Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.

U.S. National Cancer Institute invests $4 million in U of T-based startup Pathcore

There’s a tremendous amount of precision required from pathologists when they make cancer diagnoses, and the results of their work are literally a matter of life or death.

But technology developed by University of Toronto startup Pathcore™ is making the tedious and complex task of reading potentially cancerous tissue samples faster and more accurate.

“We free pathologists from counting cells, searching for those hard-to-find areas through a microscope, and doing other repetitive tasks that software can do faster and better,” said Dan Hosseinzadeh, CEO and co-founder of Pathcore. “Ultimately, that means improved patient care.”

UTM teams to compete in Open Data Day ‘idea jam’

Mississauga will mark Open Data Day on Saturday, March 5 with a day-long ‘open data idea jam’ co-hosted by the City of Mississauga, Sheridan College and U of T Mississauga’s I-CUBE business accelerator at the Institute for Management & Innovation (IMI).

At Code And The City, developers, designers, mappers and information analysts will gather to share, discuss, network and collaborate on ideas through the use of open data. Teams from Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology, the Department of Math and Computational Sciences and the Digital Enterprise Management program at UTM will be among the 75 entrants in the competition, all competing to win $6,000 in cash and prizes.

The developers will have just 12 hours to create a digital tool that makes use of open data available on the City of Mississauga website. The city publishes open data sets on a variety of city services, including recreation, culture, urban planning and business development. Participants will create a digital tool, such as an app, software or website, that makes use of that data in a way that is useful to the general public. Finalists will be decided after a round of speed pitches to judges.

While the teams work, spectators will attend discussion sessions led by industry experts in open data.

“We are committed to supporting entrepreneurial projects in Mississauga,” says Donna Heslin, IMI’s assistant director of external relations. “This competition is one way we help UTM students engage with and access great entrepreneurial opportunities.” In 2015, I-CUBE teams took two of the top three spots in a tri-campus hackathon at U of T.

The event will bring greater awareness of Mississauga’s open data sets, and help to educate the community on how the city’s information and services can be accessed through the use of technology.

“We are inviting the best and the brightest – students and seasoned professionals – to participate in our inaugural Code and the City Mississauga event,” said Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Participants will help ignite new applications that have the potential to deliver smarter, effective and more efficient community services.”