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U of T student team places third in national competition for app that helps children with autism spectrum disorder

A team of three University of Toronto graduate students has designed an app for caregivers that can help improve the accessibility of museums for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The innovation earned the team third place at the 2019 Universities Canada Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition, which aims to inspire university students to develop innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions to everyday accessibility-related barriers.

For their entry, Keren He and Yifan Zhang, both master’s students in engineering, and Christina Park, a master’s student of museum studies in the Faculty of Information, decided to focus on the barriers faced by children with ASD when visiting community spaces such as museums.

Redistribution and innovation drive Canada’s changing economy

Even before Donald Trump and before Brexit, Justin Trudeau was aware that voter disenchantment and populism were on the rise. He saw one of the important answers to this as economic, and his remedy has been to give the middle class a pay rise. “Western democracies around the world had a struggling middle class…that felt that it wasn’t part of the growth that was going on around them,” he told The Economist. “And we said, ‘Well, how do we put people back at [the heart of] the success of our economy instead of hoping that trickle-down will work for them?’ ”

Mentor spotlight: An interview with ICUBE mentor Linda Kern

A trusted and experienced advisor is often necessary in order to grow both personally and professionally. Recently, the topic of mentorship was discussed with ICUBE mentor and founder of The Kern Group, Linda Kern, who spoke about her role at ICUBE, the importance of mentorship, and offered valuable advice for entrepreneurs.

Linda Kern has spent her career in sales and leadership and has been running a sales consultancy for fourteen years, advising businesses on their sales strategies and tactics. At ICUBE UTM, she sits on the Advisory Board and provides advice and council to three different start-ups who meet with her once per quarter. She is also running a monthly sales basics training workshop starting September 4th.

Companies look to cash in on out-of-this-world profits in new space economy

Fifty years after Apollo 11, the space race has changed from a Cold War, state-funded contest to privately backed economic competition as companies and venture capitalists race to snag their piece of the universe’s next great business opportunity, one that some suggest could one day be worth $1 trillion US per year.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic garner an outsized number of headlines, but they’re just the big names. According to Space Angels, a venture capitalist group specializing in space startups, the number of privately funded space companies has grown to 375, a near 14-fold increase since 2000.

Facebook’s only Canadian Libra partner talks global regulation concerns, plans to shape the cryptocurrency

The only Canadian organization Facebook has signed up for its Libra digital currency expects domestic policymakers to follow the lead of the U.S. and the U.K. in regulating the token. “We don’t see any reason why Canada would be meaningfully different than the much bigger markets,” said Sonia Sennik, executive director of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a Toronto-headquartered startup incubator.

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U of T entrepreneur to put reliable power in the hands of Nigeria’s people

Olugbenga Olubanjo remembers fist-pumping in celebration on Victoria Day when he found out his startup had won an award of US$10,000.

Olubanjo, who recently graduated with a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Toronto, and his team at Reeddi (pronounced “ready”) aim to bring clean, affordable and portable power to the people of Nigeria, freeing them from an expensive and unpredictable energy grid. 

The Reeddi team includes two other U of T students: Osarieme Osakue, a master’s student in civil engineering and the company’s director of communications, and Joshua Dzakah, who is completing a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering.