The Network for Canadian Oral Health and Research (NCOHR) recently sponsored a Summer Workshop on Technology Transfer and Commercialization (TTC) hosted by the University of Toronto, July 30-31, 2015. Two Schulich Dentistry research trainees (Rajesh Gupta and Yara Hosein) and two faculty members (Drs. Les Kalman and Ali Tassi) attended the workshop, all with an interest in translational impact and technology transfer. The workshop focused on opportunities for introducing research commercialization to dental training programs, thereby providing opportunities for real world applications of academic research, and growth in research careers.
Dr. Hosein, a Schulich Dentistry postdoctoral fellow commented, “Programs that support research commercialization can be beneficial to the future of academic research, equipping trainees with tools for advancing and translating their research into real-world applications. This workshop was quite helpful in presenting the programs and resources available to academic researchers for the appropriate training, funding, and infrastructure to support research innovation.”
Similarly, Rajesh Gupta, a PhD candidate who is already involved in research commercialization, having recently filed a US patent based on his graduate research with Dr. Walter Siquiera, said, “It was truly an eye opener to see firsthand, how the fundamental and applied research in dentistry and medicine provided solutions to the real life challenges, thus paving the way to translate and commercialize novel technologies with endless opportunities for the youngsters like me. Additionally this workshop was a very good platform to learn about the dissemination of our research to wider audiences, in addition to various funding opportunities available in Ontario for the young entrepreneurs”.
Dr. Kalman commented, "The workshop brought awareness to funding sources, agencies and collaborators. While it is always interesting to connect with old colleagues, it's very beneficial to make newer connections with new investigators. Research is definitely heading toward industry translation and these workshops will help with the transition".
Invited speakers for the TTC workshop included government funding agencies that support research commercialization, such as Mitacs, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and Ontario Centres of Excellence, as well as representatives from start–up companies founded from academic dental research. One such representative was Schulich Dentistry’s Associate Professor Dr. Walter Siqueira, founder of start-up company SalivaMatters, who gave a keynote presentation on his experience translating academic research into a commercial setting. In addition, speakers from MaRS Innovation and University of Toronto, Ontario Campus Linked Accelerator Program highlighted university-based entrepreneurship, where case studies were presented on student entrepreneurs and companies.