Tech and the City hackathon in Mississauga sees digital solutions crafted

A one-day hackathon held in Mississauga that encouraged teams to come up with innovative solutions to a variety of challenges has produced a trio of winners.

The second annual Tech and the City event, held earlier in October, had teams of entrepreneurs, innovators, designers and programmers being presented with three different challenges. Each team then had to select one for which to create a digital solution before pitching it to a panel of judges.

The winners include the Sauga City Hack Squad for creating an app that provides Mississauga residents with an interactive digital experience by incentivizing the improvement of air quality through a points system. Also winning was Team Null for creating a short message service (SMS) app to give residents a way to connect with businesses without the use of Wi-Fi or a mobile data plan.

Five ways the CEIE is enabling experiential learning

Engineers are the makers, innovators and entrepreneurs behind so many of the world’s newest technologies, such as smartphones, self-driving cars and virtual voice-activated assistants. The engineering educational environment is quickly evolving to mirror the fast pace and collaborative nature of the profession.

The Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CEIE) is leading the way. When it opens next spring, U of T Engineering’s newest building will set a new standard for engineering education and research, incorporating experiential learning into every element of the building’s design.

The CEIE expands on the Faculty’s rich suite of programs that provide meaningful opportunities for students to apply their technical abilities in context. For example, U of T Engineering students and researchers have launched a startup to turn food waste into bioplastics, designed a solar car to race across the Australian outback, and developed new ways to conserve water and clean up contaminated sites.

Startup internships connect classroom learning to work experience

The Impact Centre’s startup internship program provides undergraduate students an opportunity to learn in a unique entrepreneurial experiential learning environment. Students are paired with Toronto-bases startups and help these fast-moving companies with product development, marketing, business development, and more. Workshops and regular interviews ensures that students are utilizing their skills and expanding their network.

Over the course of the program, over 176 students have been placed in 42 different start ups. We caught up with two of the current batch of students to hear about their experiences and advice for other students interested in taking advantage of this opportunity.

Ruby Yao is a third year Public Accounting Specialist student. She has been working with Breqlabs as an accounting and marketing intern. Rajiv Iyer is a double major in Economics and Human Geography, in his and final year working with iMerciv.

Medical startups compete for $15,000 in prizes at U of T accelerator’s pitch event

From using seal oil to treat nerve damage to a new tool to aid minimally invasive surgery, entrepreneurs from the University of Toronto and beyond tested out health-focused business ideas during the Health Innovation Hub’s (H2i) recent pitch competition.

Six startups presented their ideas before a panel of three judges at U of T’s ONRamp co-working space for entrepreneurs before being questioned about their products, markets and business models.

One of the winning startups, called Xpan, took home $5,000 for its attempt to improve on a surgical device called a trocar, a T-shaped implement used to create a portal into the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery.

SwiftPad’s App gives independent pharmacists a chance compete with chains

Growing up in a family of pharmacists, Amir Motahari spent enough time behind the counter to see the challenges of running an independent pharmacy. The SwiftPad app, co-founded with Victor Chen Li and Maxim Antipin, looks to remedy the industry’s pain points by offering a suite of tech tools they can use to compete with even the largest pharmacy chains.

It’s hard not to catch the pain-points of running a pharmacy when it’s the world you were raised in.

“My aunt and father were pharmacists and owned pharmacies, my uncle was a pharmaceutical executive,” says Amir Motahari, adding that he’s sent plenty of time behind the counter as well.

So it makes sense that the University of Toronto human biology would go into the family business. Albeit, his is a different riff off his relatives’ approach: in 2015, Motahari along with Victor Chen Li, and Maxim Antipin, co-founded SwiftPad, a mobile app for pharmacists offering a suite of tools enabling everything from e-prescriptions to refill requests, communicating with patients directly and sending reminders.

Trudeau gets his geek on at U of T, talking AI and Canada’s future

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed his nerd-in-chief reputation and outlined his government’s vision to capitalize on Canada’s early lead in artificial intelligence, or AI, during an appearance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Trudeau, a self-professed “geek,” was a special guest at the annual business of AI conference hosted by Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a seed stage accelerator that specializes in building AI-powered startups.

Quizzed on his AI knowledge, Trudeau compared the technology to playing chess against a computer that not only made moves based on cold hard calculations, but “leaps of instinct” that mimic how the human brain works.

Businesses need to prepare for AI revolution, Rotman dean says in Globe and Mail op-ed

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is poised to unleash another technological revolution and businesses need to embrace the coming change or risk being left in its wake, according to Globe and Mail op-ed co-written by Tiff Macklem, the dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
The op-ed, written with McKinsey & Co. partners Vincent Bérubé and John Kelleher, argues AI technologies will do for cognitive tasks what the steam engine did for physical ones – forever changing the world in the process.
It comes as Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab accelerator is set to host a sold-out conference Thursday on the business of AI called “Machine Learning and the Market for Intelligence” that will be attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a long list of AI researchers, entrepreneurs and investors.

‘The conscience of AI’: Why this U of T expert created a forum for AI researchers and entrepreneurs to discuss ethics

Markus Dubber’s first brush with artificial intelligence, or AI, occurred in an unlikely place: a performance of his daughter’s choir.

The director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics bumped into Ajay Agrawal, another proud parent who also happens to be a professor at U of T’s Rotman School of Management and the founder of U of T’s Creative Destruction Lab – a seed stage accelerator that specializes in scaling startups that employ AI technologies.

It wasn’t long before Dubber was invited to attend the lab’s events to get a sense of the difficult ethical questions that inevitably arise when machines are asked to make decisions and exercise judgment.

U of T co-op students develop app for Rouge National Urban Park

A new mobile app for Rouge National Urban Park, developed by University of Toronto students, is like having a seasoned tour guide right in the palm of your hands.

“We wanted the app to be user-friendly and fun, one that highlights the amazing ecology and cultural history for people in real time,” says Kaitlyn Chow, a graduate of the master’s program in environmental science at U of T Scarborough who helped develop the app.

Chow worked on the content side of the app along with fellow environmental science master’s student Winston Lee, while computer science students Derek EthertonAlex Cavanagh, Dayde Reidand Brian Au developed the technical side.

In gathering information for the app, they hiked the park and consulted with Indigenous groups, local experts, Parks Canada staff, and long-time residents of the area.

Tech guru Mooly Eden to talk at U of T about future of AI, robotics

After more than three decades on the front lines of the tech revolution, Israel’s Mooly Eden can confidently predict two things about the future: The pace of technological change will continue to accelerate exponentially, and we’re not doing nearly enough to keep up.

Take, for example, the suddenly hot field of artificial intelligence, or AI, in which the University of Toronto has emerged as an early leader.

Eden, who spent more than 30 years at chip giant Intel Corp. and until four years ago was in charge of the firm’s biggest business unit, says AI and robotics technologies will have a profound impact on industries that range from transportation to medicine.

“I believe it’s a tsunami,” he says in an interview. “The change is going to be huge – and it won’t only be a technological change, but a social change.