The federal government said Wednesday it has contributed $1.3 million to the Lab2Market program at Dalhousie University, and the program is now looking for participants for its next cohort.

The Dal announcement was part of a major funding initiative for Lab2Market, which aims to be a pan-national program that teaches startup methodology to researchers. While the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is providing a $1.3 million grant to the program at Dal, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario is providing the same amount to the program at Ryerson University in Toronto.

“Canada needs innovators with an entrepreneurial mindset who have the attitudes, knowledge, skills, discipline and resilience to generate solutions to local, national and global challenges,” said Dal Vice-President of Research and Innovation Alice Aiken in a statement. “Canada is already home to world-leading research-intensive universities, and we can generate a pipeline of ventures emerging from them.”

Modeled on successful programs in the U.S. and U.K., Lab2Market works with PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers to determine whether their scientific discoveries can be developed into startups. Ryerson University in Toronto, Dalhousie University in Halifax and Memorial University of Newfoundland originally signed up to oversee pilot cohorts over the next two years.

The program at MUN focuses on ocean technology, and is being supported by Canada's Ocean Supercluster. Mitacs, a not-for-profit that helps industry work with academia on R&D, is also contributing to the Lab2Market program.

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The statement said Dalhousie will lead 40 teams of students, researchers and experienced advisers over the next two years to develop and commercialize innovative ideas. The goal is to support 30 business ventures, 20 new commercialized technologies, five commercial licensing agreements with industry, and about 10 partnerships with businesses and university-based incubator-accelerators.

L2M was modeled on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program in the U.S. and the United Kingdom’s Innovation and Commercialization of University Research program. The thinking behind these programs is that university researchers produce great innovations but need to investigate whether there’s a market for their products and learn how to reach those markets.

Lab2Market works with three-member teams (comprising a researcher, a business development lead, and a mentor) to try to establish a product-market fit. Each team receives $15,000 to cover costs during the two-month program.

Dal is leading three cohorts, one of which was focused on healthcare in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has already finished.

Applications are now open for the next cohort, which can be found here. They are open until Nov. 20. The organizers will accept 20 teams in the program, which will run from mid-March to mid-May.


Disclosure: ACOA and Dal are clients of Entrevestor.