U of S program hands patents over to students to launch entrepreneurs

The University of Saskatchewan is hoping a few businesses will be created after it gave some of its patents to students.

Summer Entrepreneurs program lets students look at institution's existing patents

Cuyler Conly (left) shows the patented medical devices that helps unconscious patients breathe. (University of Saskatchewan)

The University of Saskatchewan is hoping a few businesses will be created after it gave some of its patents to students.

The Summer Entrepreneurs program looked at some of the institution's existing patents to determine whether there was any market potential, said Johannes Dyring, managing director of Innovation Enterprise at the U of S.

"We manage about 200 technologies and sometimes it's just very hard to license the technology and to make the technology available to existing businesses," Dyring told Saskatoon Morning's Heather Morrison.

So the university asked U of S students to pick one of the technologies and work on them over the over the summer to see if that technology could solve a market problem.

Potential for a startup

If a business case could be made for one of the patents, the students would essentially be given the technology to help them create a startup.

Johannes Dyring is the managing director of Innovation Enterprise at the U of S. (University of Saskatchewan)

U of S medical student Cuylar Conly jumped at the chance to be part of the program.

"I knew coming into medical school that I wanted to stay attached to innovative projects and kind of be the doctor that brings new things into the clinical environment," Conly said. "When I saw this opportunity to have a summer job to look at brand new technologies popping out of a university and see how it could fit the real world, it was just too good to be true."

Conly chose to explore the merits of a medical device that helps unconscious patient breathe.

He thinks the device has potential to do well as a business venture.

"It assists with the very first step in any emergency procedure or any elective surgery. And so the global impact could be huge."

Dyring said it looks like a couple of companies will emerge from the program.

Students who participated in the University of Saskatchewan's Summer Entrepreneurs program. (University of Saskatchewan)

He said universities are great sources of knowledge creation, especially when many industry sectors are reducing their budgets for research and development.

While this is a pilot program, Dyring is hoping to scale it up in the coming years.

Dyring said well-known entrepreneurial universities such as Stanford and M.I.T. see about 20 per cent of their students get involved in startups while the U of S only sees a fraction of their students become entrepreneurs.

"We have a huge upside potential here," he said.

with files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning


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