As we head into the Spring Term, the Science Innovation Hub is proud to support a diverse group of teams, working on a variety of important issues. Come meet our inaugural cohort, and learn about the progress they have made so far!
If you’ve ever pulled out a package of questionable meat from the fridge and gotten a whiff of something you never wanted to, Diffusiv wants you to know that they’re working hard to save your nose - and your groceries.
Diffusiv is aiming to make knowing whether your meat has gone bad as easy as looking at a sticker. As meat expires, it releases chemicals known as volatile organic compounds. Diffusiv has created a unique nanomaterial that changes colour when it comes into contact with these chemicals. By placing this nanomaterial into easily applied stickers, Diffusiv is pioneering a cheaper and more effective method for detecting meat spoilage, helping to protect consumers and limit costly recalls.
On November 8, 2019, Diffusiv won EPICentre’s 4th annual RBC EPIC Business Model Canvas Competition (BMCC), securing them some fantastic funding that has allowed them to hire a number of excellent co-ops students. This past term, they’ve made great strides within the Science Innovation Hub including creating a working prototype! For more updates, follow Diffusiv on their LinkedIn page.
The University of Waterloo iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) team has been around since 2005 and boasts an illustrious career, consistently medalling since 2012. They’ve been awarded Best Poster (not once, not twice, but three times!), Best Software, and Best Model in their annual international competition that regularly hosts over 300 teams. The Waterloo iGEM team is also recognized by Synbio Canada as a pioneering student team through iGEM. They have over 200 alumni and current student members.
This year’s team has big plans for their 15th year of innovative competition. Focusing on industrial waste streams, they aim to engineer a protein capable of specifically binding and removing metals in water effluent, trapping them on a cellulose column for extraction and hopefully, re-use. You can follow their wacky science adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as they gear up for the 2020 Giant Jamboree.
iuvoderm is creating a wound dressing to speed up the recovery process of diabetic foot ulcers. Their all-in-one approach combines an antimicrobial wound dressing with drug infusions, creating an affordable, easy-to-use solution that ensures wounds close and heal properly.
Since their start in 2018, iuvoderm has won several competitions including The Cowan Prize and the Quantum Valley Investments Problem Pitch. Most recently, iuvoderm won the People’s Champ Award during the Winter 2020 Concept $5K Finals! All of these successes have allowed iuvoderm to really dig into the problem of diabetic foot ulcers, focusing first and foremost on the patients. They hope to bring treatment solutions into the modern age so that patients can spend more time out of the hospital bed and on their feet.
Material Futures Lab
Material Futures Lab is developing nature-identical pigments as an alternative to synthetic textile dyes. By using microorganisms to create dyes, they are working towards the future of sustainable fashion and clean technology.
In Fall 2018, Material Futures Lab pitched and won at the Velocity Fund Final (now Concept $5K grant). With their win, they were able to incorporate and build valuable connections with other biotechnology companies.
As a part of the Winter 2020 E Co-op cohort, Material Futures Lab was a recipient for the Norman Esch Enterprise Co-op Award! In the same term, Material Futures Lab brought a Science co-op student on board to continue their work which led to some colourful, exciting advances. Follow Material Futures Lab on LinkedIn to see what they’ll be mixing up next.
PolyGone Technologies provides microplastic detection and certification services, letting consumers know just how much plastic is in their favourite beverages and helping producers take steps to get those plastics out.
Since their start in 2017, PolyGone Technologies has won several events and awards including the Jack Rosen Memorial Award (Winter 2018), JumpStart funding through the Accelerator Centre (Spring 2018), Fierce Founders Bootcamp (Fall 2018), and the Big Ideas Challenge (Spring 2018) with our partner St. Paul’s GreenHouse! PolyGone Technologies was also the Canadian winner for the 2018 Commission for Environmental Cooperation - Youth Innovation Challenge.
More recently, PolyGone Technologies has served as judges at Hack the Plastics, hosted by the Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research. They’re continuing to give back to the microplastics community by mentoring a fourth year chemical engineering design team (Hydromo) in their work testing a microfibre hydrocyclone filter. They’ve also successfully filed their first international patent! Follow PolyGone Technologies on their social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Qoltom Inc (which stands for Quality Of Life Tomorrow) is dedicated to empowering people to be freely mobile through innovative and safe designs. They aim to revolutionize rollator walkers by introducing a braking system that automatically activates, reducing the risk of accidental falls when users forget to lock the break.
Beginning their journey with a win at the 2017 HackforHealth competition, Qoltom has made sure to keep that momentum going strong. They won the Velocity $5K grant (under the name FreeWheel) in Winter 2018 and GreenHouse’s Social Impact Fund in Fall 2018. With their funding, Qoltom was able to hire engineers to develop a working prototype.
Since then, Qoltom has received ethics clearance from the University of Waterloo in November 2019 and have started usability testing with their prototype. They’ve also been building connections within the community to ensure that their work gets tested by those who will use it the most. Follow Qoltom on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as they continue onto the next leg of their journey!
Ever get frustrated by how grainy your photos look when you zoom in a little too much on your phone camera? Scope is here to make all those incredible photos you could have taken a reality. The team has been working hard to create electrically-tunable liquid crystal lenses that allow for users to take pictures with no loss in quality when zooming in. By choosing to use liquid crystals, Scope is aiming for a smaller, less expensive system, perfect for smartphones.
Originally formed as a fourth year nanotechnology engineering design project, Scope has gone from building their own simulations module from scratch to creating a working proof-of-concept lens with industry-level liquid crystal alignments, capable of quickly focusing and defocusing laser beams.
In addition to their technical advances, Scope has won several competitions including the Palihapitiya 50K Venture Creation Fund (2020), Quantum Valley Problem Pitch (Winter 2020), Norman Esch Entrepreneurship Competition (Winter 2020), and Concept 5K Pitch Competition (Fall 2019). They are also two-time recipients of the Engineer of the Future Fund Award. In addition to joining us in the Science Innovation Hub, they are also members of Y Combinator’s Startup School and have just been accepted into the Velocity Incubator.
Moving forward, Scope has already obtained their first letter of intent for microscope lens design, and are working on many more!