Perspectives on innovation: An MBET's takeaways from OCE Discovery

The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery event was a true eye opener. I was proud to attend the event as a representative of the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program, the Conrad Centre and my practicum project, ULLO.

MBET students Tara Scanlan and Zoe Share talk to an OCE Discovery delegate about their startup, ULLO, at an exhibitor booth in the Waterloo pavilion.

Challenge yourself and challenge technology

On May 12th and 13th, 2014, I attended OCE Discovery, an event that showcases leading edge technologies, best practices in innovation, and new and emerging research and researchers in the technology and innovation fields. On day one, the event started with a series of speakers, including former University of Waterloo President, the Governor General of Canada, David Johnson. Johnson expressed being proud of Canada’s strength in public education and reminded the room how easy it is to become complacent in such a dynamic and prosperous country. He challenged entrepreneurs and business minds to continue to be curious, smart, and caring.

David Johnston speaking at OCE Discovery

David Johnston speaking at the beginning of OCE Discovery.

The event continued with a keynote session with Salim Ismail and Brad Templeton from Singularity University. I was captured by these speakers as they discussed accelerated growth in technology and the implications of that growth on global health, security, poverty, and education. These powerful opening addresses opened my mind and set the stage for what would be two days of meeting innovative and creative individuals.

Keynote from Steve Blank

During the luncheon on day two, I had the privilege of learning from Steve Blank, often referred to as the father of the Lean Startup, who answered questions via satellite. Blank was an articulate and humorous speaker. “Entrepreneurship is a miserable job,” he said in a series of comments about the challenges faced by entrepreneurs. 

Steve Blank via satellite

As he continued to discuss the qualities and characteristics of the most successful ones, Blank called the entrepreneur “an artist” who needs to wear many different hats including being able to sell, market, design, and build a product or service. Being able to do so, he said, is paramount to the success of the entrepreneur. The quality of the questions asked by the audience during this session demonstrated the strength of the delegates in the room. It was an exciting experience to be part of.

Above, left: Steve Blank speaking to the OCE Discovery delegates via satellite.

Experiencing and discovering

I was proud to represent the MBET program and practicum projects Medlinx, a medical technology, and ULLO, an ethical fashion social enterprise on the tradeshow floor at OCE Discovery. I was also proud to see Voltera and PetroPredict, companies founded by Engineering students from the University of Waterloo, win the event's major competitions.

Right: Tara Scanlan and Zoe Share speak to OCE Discovery delegates about ULLO.

Visitors to the MBET booth were impressed with our tenacity and praised the MBET program for sending students who represented sustainable businesses and diversity in innovation. We met people from all fields and even had interest from a young woman who had been involved in the Young Entrepreneurs pitch contest. Perhaps she is an MBET in the making!

Attending OCE Discovery allowed me to reflect on my experiences this year in the MBET program. We truly are part of something very special, and have a responsibility to make sustainable choices as we develop our businesses, whether our own or in another company. Having a mind to the social implications of a changing technological world is a take away for me. As the world continues to change, as retail goes online and as people cook ideas in innovation labs, I look forward to continuing to learn and grow, and expect I'll attend this event again!

About Zoe

Zoe ShareZoe Share is a current MBET candidate at the University of Waterloo and has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto. After teaching in the classroom, Zoe realized her passion for business and is currently the VP, Marketing and Education at ULLO, an ethical fashion startup and MBET practicum project.

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