Minister Navdeep Bains Visits ECU on the Heels of Digital Supercluster Announcement

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By Perrin Grauer

Posted on January 16, 2020 | Updated January 22, 2020, 10:04AM

The Minister met with ECU and industry participants in the Shumka Centre's Design for Startups program.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, visited Emily Carr University on Thursday to hear from participants in the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship's Design for Startups program.

The Minister's visit came on the heels of an announcement of fresh funding for the federal government's Digital Technology Supercluster initiative — a program that aims to position Canada as a global leader in digital technologies by bringing together small, medium-sized and large companies, post-secondary institutions, research organizations and not-for-profits.

"The Digital Technology Supercluster is building strong momentum, creating a hotbed of innovation, collaboration and growth here in the Greater Vancouver region, and across B.C. and Canada," Minister Bains said.

"Today's projects will have a transformative effect across Canada's economy. They are not only ensuring all Canadians have access to the technology sector's employment opportunities, but are also empowering companies to experiment with new technological solutions for some of our most pressing challenges."

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Design for Startups is one of eight 2020 recipients of funding under the Supercluster's 'Capacity Building Program,' which partners with employers, educators and community organizations to build job-ready, world-leading talent. Design for Startups engages top student designers to work directly with technical and business leads of early-stage companies.

“Design for Startups boosts capacity by building a bridge between the worlds of design and technology," Kate Armstrong, Director of the Shumka Centre, said.

    While at ECU, Minister Bains stopped by the Aboriginal Gathering Place to meet with past and current student and industry participants in Design for Startups and hear about their experience in the ongoing program.

    Fourth-year interaction design student Janani Ramesh, ECU alum + UX/UI Designer at Copilot AI Amy Zhu, and A&K Robotics COO + Cofounder Jessica Yip — all past or current participants in Design for Startups — related stories regarding how they'd benefited from the program, and how pleased they were to see it extending its reach with the help of the federal government. Following the Design for Startups 2018 program, ECU and A&K Robotics formed a larger research partnership funded by IRAP.

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    Connie Watts, Associate Director of the Aboriginal Gathering Place, welcomed the group for its sit-down meeting. Steven Lam, Associate Vice President of Research + Dean of the Jake Kerr Faculty of Graduate Studies provided an introduction, while Vice President Academic + Provost, Trish Kelly, and ECU's President and Vice Chancellor, Gillian Siddall, were on hand to greet the Minister as well.

    Later on, Keith Doyle, Co-Director of Material Matters, took the Minister through some of the design projects and processes students typically undertake.

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