3 Generations of Entrepreneurs that Demonstrate How Entrepreneurship Can Spark at Any Time
What is the ideal age of becoming an entrepreneur? Trick question. There isn’t one.
Despite what we see in the movies, entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds, ages and walks of life and there has never been a better time for entrepreneurship than now. We live in an era where innovation is limitless and the world will always be looking to transform ideas into impact. Being an entrepreneur requires the ability to recognize problems and to rigorously pursue solutions… so why sit and wait to find the solution to a problem that’s keeping you up at night?
At entrepreneurship@UBC, we are guided by our mandate of supporting undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, staff, and alumni to develop as innovators, helping them to build transformational ventures that positively shape the economy and society while cultivating real-world intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial leadership. In anticipation of our venture building program applications, we wanted to showcase 3 different generations of entrepreneurs to demonstrate that the entrepreneurs in our community come from diverse backgrounds across the UBC ecosystem. These individuals have taken the world into their own hands to create scientific and technological innovations that are unique, proprietary, and difficult to reproduce, catapulting their innovation into a company that can thrive.
Founded by Abhiram Cherukupalli, a current UBC Family Medicine Resident, Tractus Medical is focused on improving the system in which physicians can effectively and efficiently treat wrist (distal radius) fractures in the Emergency Department. Their device is designed for single physician operation and will ensure reliable and reproducible parameters in resetting the bone fragments to their proper orientation.
“Throughout medical school, I would always question the actions of day-to-day patient care in the hospital, thinking about how things could potentially be done better. This growing curiosity and inquisitiveness really sparked the idea for Tractus Medical on my Orthopedic Trauma rotation at VGH and has continued to foster my interest in the medical technology industry and entrepreneurship as a whole.”
— Abhiram Cherukupalli, Founder, Tractus Medical
ThorTech, co-founded by Roxanna Delima, a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering, is developing a reactor that can be leveraged in the food, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical industries to produce useful chemicals through a process known as hydrogenation. ThorTech's reactor circumvents the need for hydrogen gas by using water and renewable electricity to hydrogenate at ambient conditions. Their vision is to transform the way hydrogenations are performed by providing a safe, efficient, and clean alternative to conventional methods.
“I have always had an interest in making science applicable to solving real-world problems, specifically for solutions that could help mitigate climate change. This enthusiasm translated into my Ph.D. project, and as a result of working with incredible mentors and a strong research team, I have been able to transform my research project into a venture that could help to ease our reliance on harmful fossil fuels.”
— Roxanna Delima, Co-founder, ThorTech
Immfinity, founded by Govinda Sharma, a post-doctoral researcher and UBC alumni with a Ph.D in Genome Science and Technology, is driven by the potential of T cell-based immunotherapies to transform oncology. By engineering the immune system to attack defined tumor targets, these game-changing "living medicines'' offer the promise of truly precise and durable cancer cures. Their aim is to become the pre-eminent discovery engine for the development of novel cellular therapeutics and, in so doing, illuminate the way forward for this new era of medicine.
"As I was working away in the lab to develop the tools that would eventually become the Immfinity platform, it really started to become evident that we are entering a critical time in the pursuit of creating cancer cures. Most companies and research institutes were sort of groping in the dark to find the next big thing in cell therapy - I wanted to create a discovery platform that would make that goal easier to achieve and be accessible to the whole field."
— Govinda Sharma, Founder, Immfinity
Fibrilex, founded by UBC postdoctoral researcher in Wood Science, Mirjam Mai, provides a solution for pre-cast concrete manufacturers who can’t source construction sand reliably or economically. Our additive enables the use of locally available sand types that are typically not viable for concrete. Using our engineered aggregates produces a concrete with improved properties compared to regular sand. Unlike other sustainable concrete solutions that do not address sand shortages and related environmental problems, Fibrilex opens up access to a stable, local sand supply that keeps marine ecosystems unharmed.
"I have worked in two local biomaterials start-ups since completing my post-doctorate at UBC in 2013. Having a sense of purpose and social impact in what I am doing compelled me to become part of the solution to existing problems myself and with my own venture. When I learned about the devastating impacts of uncontrolled sand mining around the world and the fact that sand is being shipped for thousands of kilometers, I wanted to find a solution that looks at locally available materials and considers the circular economy."
— Mirjam Mai, Founder, Fibrilex
Founded by Jordan Mackenzie, a faculty member of UBC Applied Science, BioForm Solutions Inc. has been established to accelerate the global transition from single-use plastics to sustainable materials. Their manufacturing platform is capable of creating and supplying environmentally friendly materials that have similar mechanical properties compared to conventional plastics, with the added benefit of being fully biodegradable and biologically safe. BioForm Solutions Inc. is committed to providing economical solutions to single-use plastics that are reliable and produce products that sustain tomorrow.
“I’ve always tried to gear my research in ways that could positively impact society. I think it’s important to have that in the back of your mind when working at an academic level and to ensure that these commercial opportunities, that promote change, are not wasted. In the case of BioForm Solutions, the process of taking our research and turning it into a commercial opportunity was very fluid. I’m excited to be a part of this group and look forward to innovating new solutions to global waste challenges.”
— Jordan Mackenzie
There are no criteria for when you can start being part of the solution to drive meaningful change, so are you ready to launch your entrepreneurial career? Applications for our Lab2Launch and CORE Venture Building Program are still open, apply by February 25th! Subscribe to our newsletter to hear more about our venture building programs, upcoming events and announcements to venture success stories, and ways you can get involved, here.
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