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Archive for the ‘Pam Banks’ Category

By Pam Banks

Earlier this week, we announced the competing companies –  Carmel Vision, Induce Biologics, Isobarex and Rivalries Corporation – that will pitch to the expert panel for a chance to be crowned the Star Innovator of Idol III.

The winning company will be the recipient of a suite of prizes valued over $40,000 from the kind contribution of the prize sponsors.

“Our finalists have invested many hundreds of hours in sweat equity to get to this annual grand finale of our Growing Your Business breakfast series,” said RIC`s Entrepreneur-in-residence, James Sbrolla. “They are all talented and committed star innovators who benefit from prize sponsors like Bereskin Parr, C Worthy, Intelligent Office, Gowlings, Marketing Pad, Meyer Norris Penny, RBC, and Sustained-Media.”


June 15th`s Idol III is shaping up to be an extraordinary event, we have had to move to a bigger venue to accommodate a large crowd and we are excited to be growing so exponentially and being recognized by our peers and supporters. Mayor McCallion highlighted the importance of great platforms like Idol for start-up companies to connect with investors and to encourage other individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations.

We are also looking forward to past winners – Temporal Power and RealTech – providing an update of where being an Innovator Idol winner has taken them.

June 15th’s Idol is an event you won’t want to miss – Click here to register today – we hope to see you there!

Pam Banks is the Executive Director for RIC Centre.  RIC Centre helps new entrepreneurs and seasoned business people take the next great idea to market in the field of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, life sciences and emerging technology.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Part 4 of the highlights from OCE Discovery 2011  

By Pam Banks

Innovation is driven by imagination and technology.  For Ontario to continue to build innovation capacity we need to inspire talented minds along the pipeline.  Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery 2011 featured budding entrepreneurs on both ends of the spectrum.

The FIRST LEGO League is a mentor-based robotics program for children aged 9-14, designed to get young people excited about science and technology. The program introduces students to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. In addition to building a LEGO robot, the children are also challenged to research and address problems faced by scientists today.

Amanda and Michael, two of the students competing in this year’s competition developed an applied research project on diabetes management.  Current glucose monitoring is invasive, painful, and inconvenient.  The requirement to do this 4-10 times a day often results in non-compliance. So the team decided to come up with an easier, continuous way to monitor glucose levels.

They designed an internal glucose monitoring system that eliminates finger pricking and gives an immediate, real-time blood sugar level so action can be taken. The result was The Sentinel System, which has: a Bio-implant, a Watch, and an optional insulin pump.

Impressively, they designed all the parts necessary to make their innovate product work, as well as a plan on how to get their product approved and ready for the real world.

Front row L-R  Sentinel project team members Michael Catricala & Amanda Rampertab. Back row L – R Pam Banks, Dave Ellis, FLL Ontario

Programs like FIRST are incredibly important to motivate the next generation of innovators.  They are the future and companies such as LEGO have inspired them to explore possibilities outside the realm of a classroom.

For more information about the programs, please visit www.firstroboticscanada.org/ or contact: Dave Ellis (david.ellis@firstroboticscanada.org)

Pam Banks is the Executive Director for RIC Centre.  RIC Centre helps new entrepreneurs and seasoned business people take the next great idea to market in the field of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, life sciences and emerging technology.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Pam Banks

Both the federal and provincial budgets focus on green investment.  Strategically, green sounds great but we need to see real investment and support for commercialization.

The Ontario budget proposes a new water strategy to protect our water resources and create jobs.  It’s important that those funds get into the hands of companies that create and commercialize innovations that help protect our water.

Recently RIC Centre sponsored the Caledon Chamber of Commerce Innovation & Technology Award.  The recipient was IONICS Mass Spectrometry Group.  IONICS is a company from Bolton that has an innovation that seeds new innovations in the environmental and life science sectors.

Mass spectrometry may sound a bit a Star Trek or CSI –like.  In fact, it is an essential tool used by scientists to measure compounds with very low molecular weights.  While this may not seem significant, it is essential in the development of new natural-based health products and the environment.

IONICS’ 3Q Molecular Analyzer measures much smaller amounts of compounds.  Reza Javahery, President & CEO IONICS provided an impactful description of how they support clean water resources.  If you were to hide 10 drops of oil in Lake Ontario, IONICS could find it in a matter of seconds.

IONICS is a significant brain trust for the community with a staff of more than 40 highly skilled scientists and engineers.  They are focused on continual improvements and are self confessed “mass spec junkies”.  These are the kinds of companies that with a little economic stimulation will continue to innovate, export and create jobs.

Pictured RIC Commercialization Director Pam Banks presents the award to Reza Javahery, President & CEO IONICS. Photo courtesy of Bella Photography Inc.

Pam Banks is the Commercialization Director for RIC Centre.  RIC Centre helps new entrepreneurs and seasoned business people take the next great idea to market in the field of advanced manufacturing, aerospace, life sciences and emerging technology.

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Editor’s noteThis week we will be posting a series of book reviews prepared by Pam Banks. These reviews are also available to watch on Roger’s TV In Business Program. See link below.

Peaks and Valleys – by Spencer Johnson

By Pam Banks

Peaks and Valleys is a book about a few simple principles and practical tools to use for success.  It’s about finding the hidden “good” in bad times to use it for the future.

The author, Spencer Johnson, who also wrote “Who Moved My Cheese”, uses as simple story to illustrate some practical tools.  The story goes like this:

There was a young man who had lived in a valley his whole life.  As he grew older he became increasingly unhappy although he wasn’t sure why.  He spent a lot of time in the valley looking up at the range of majestic mountains that rose up above the valley, and for a while felt better.  Eventually he   decided to climb up the peak, where he found an old man.  The old man introduced him to the concept of  “Peaks and Valleys approach to good and bad times.”

Peaks and valleys are like the highs and lows in our life.  Peaks are the moments when you appreciate what you have and the valleys are moments when you long for what is missing.  It’s what you do in the bad times, that creates the good times.  For example let’s say you lose your job.  Naturally you are angry, but what if you looked at this as an opportunity to leave a job that you weren’t really suited for – and you had the freedom to pursue something better.  If you were hiring a new employee, what would you look for – someone who was down trodden or someone with a positive attitude.

It’s usually the person with the better attitude that gets a better job.

When we are on top we are invincible.  But things do change and when we find ourselves back on the bottom or in the valley, it gets harder to climb back out to the top.  The most common reason we leave a peak too soon is arrogance masquerading as confidence.  The most common reason you stay in a valley too long is fear masquerading as comfort.

The best way to stay up on the peak or at the top of your game is to have a vision of who you are and where you want to be.  Just like the best athletes, the vision must be sensible and practical.  For example, if you want your company to be a major player in technology you need to be practical in the steps you take to get you to the top.  You need to structure the organization for growth, protect your IP and find investors.

In summary the peaks and valleys concept can be applied at work and in our personal life.  We can manage good, and bad times, so make reality your friend.  To get out of a valley, find the good hidden in a bad time, and use it to your advantage.  Appreciate good times – be humble and save some resources for the next valley and follow your sensible vision.

This is a great uplifting and practical book to get you thinking “positive” in turbulent economic times.

Pam is Commercialization Director for RIC Centre. She is a regular book reviewer on the business program  In Business on Rogers TV. Watch Pam’s review  of Peaks and Valleys

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Editor’s noteThis week we will be posting a series of book reviews prepared by Pam Banks. These reviews are also available to watch on Roger’s TV In Business Program. See link below.

Exploiting Chaos by Jeremy Gutsche

By Pam Banks

Exploiting Chaos focuses on 150 ways to spark innovation during times of change. This book explores how remarkable companies have risen from chaos and provides a toolkit to foster a culture of innovation.

The greatest changes in history occurred during the Renaissance period from the 14th to 17th century.  This remarkable period emerged after the eruption of the Black Death – the deadliest pandemic in history.  Nearly half of the European population died, causing a state of chaos.  This chaos caused social structures to collapse, forcing a period of remarkable adaption.

To thrive companies must learn not to create structure and stability, but rather to adapt quickly.

Fixed expectations are the enemies of adaptation, and the following experiment with monkeys illustrates why. Monkeys were placed in a cage with a ladder that led to a bunch of bananas.  The catch was that the ladder was connected to a powerful water hose.  When the first monkey raced up the ladder for the bananas the entire cage was drenched with water.  Another curious monkey made the greedy grasp for the bananas and triggered the shower.  At this point the monkeys connected the bananas with water.  Each time one of the original monkeys was swapped out of the cage the newcomer would immediately race for the fruit – but the group would beat him down before he could make it to the ladder.  Later the fire hose was removed, but it didn’t matter they had their lesson hardwired.

Non- traditional thinkers offer the maverick ideas and the personality required to adapt – so hire freaks. Don’t be afraid to irritate people – chaos requires organization to make bold changes and people tend to become complacent.

Cross pollinate your ideas.  The problems you are solving have likely been tackled in parallel industries.

Goldcorp was a little mining company that wanted to grow.  No matter where they looked for gold their properties seemed to lack potential.  The CEO published the company’s highly secretive geological data and offered more than half a million dollars in prize money to any person in the world who could identify a strategy for finding gold.  Goldcorp received 100 new strategies.  The new methodologies led Goldcorp to unearth 8 million ounces of gold catapulting the $100 million dollar company to a $20 billion dollar valuation.

It’s important to reset your expectations and open your mind to explore seemingly random innovation. There are unique ideas all around us.  The difficult part is making sense of it all.   Innovation starts with the customer, so obsess about your customer.  Who are they…what do they need?

By 2007 GM was struggling with gas guzzling SUVs like the Escalade.  They realized that they had pushed the company away from females and eco-conscious buyers.  To better understand this demographic, the designers literally put themselves in the shoes of their female customers.  Male engineers were required to dress in drag and then get into and out of raised trucks and SUVs to understand what it’s like for women wearing dresses.  This helped them design cars like the Chevy Volt.

If you want to spark inspiration you need to hunt ideas that seem cool – but what exactly is cool? Trend hunting or clustering ideas that are important to your customers can help focus your innovation.  The book does a  great job in using photos to help group ideas and identify cool concepts.

We are in a period of economic crisis where global markets have lost a decade of value.  Collapse of any kind ripples through the economy, but it also gives birth to new opportunity.  Einstein words about three rules of work still ring true:

–          Out of clutter, find simplicity

–          From discord, find harmony

–          In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity

So look at chaos as a new opportunity for relentless innovation.

Pam is Commercialization Director for RIC Centre. She is a regular book reviewer on the business program  In Business on Rogers TV. Watch Pam’s review  of Exploiting Chaos.

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Editor’s noteThis week we will be posting a series of book reviews prepared by Pam Banks. These reviews are also available to watch on Roger’s TV In Business Program. See link below.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

By Pam Banks

Is it true? Is there finally a system that will help me get through my busy day and accomplish everything I planned?  Enter, Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Allen discusses many different psychological and physical characteristics of the brain and their effect on how and why we process information like we do.  An example is discussing a 1959 study about Psychic RAM.  The study suggests that our psychic RAM can only hold about 7 things in it at any one time.  The moment we try to jam one more thing in, it tosses something out.

The author suggests that by clearing your mind of the task of remembering all the things you need to get done, you can develop a mind like water.  Having a mind like water is all about being prepared to perfectly respond to whatever is present.  Like the water responds to whatever you throw into it.  If you throw a small pebble in, it responds to a small pebble.  If you throw a boulder in, the water responds to the boulder.  However, your mind must be clear of all distractions in order for it to respond perfectly.  That’s where the author’s system comes in.

Allen suggests that you must gain control and perspective on your life in order to develop a mind like water.  The first component is control and there are five steps to gaining control.

The system starts off by collecting all of the items in your life that require decisions.  Reminders, emails, magazines to read, books, recipes and all the other to-dos that your brain is trying to manage on a daily basis.  Once you have collected the “stuff” as he calls it, you must now process it.  Processing is deciding what to do with it.  Keep it, toss it, or deal with it now.  The author also throws in this great little piece of advice.  If you can deal with something in 2 minutes or less, then deal with it now.  It takes less time to just “do it” than the time required to put it into the system.  The next three stages are organizing, reviewing and then actually getting it done.

Once you have the control side of the equation in place, you can move on to the perspective.  The perspective portion of the system has six components to it.  Current actions, current projects, areas of responsibility, yearly goals, five-year vision and life goals.  He relates these to a plane taking off from an airport.  Current action, the first phase, is like being on the runway and taking off.  Current projects are at 10,000 feet, then moving on to the other four.  Allen suggests that you must progress through the steps as laid out because your mind will not process them out-of-order.  It’s kind of like a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  The basics must be satisfied first before you can move on.

Write the title of this book down. You don’t want this to be the 8th item trying to occupy your psychic ram.

Pam is Commercialization Director for RIC Centre. She is a regular book reviewer on the business program  In Business on Rogers TV. Watch Pam’s review  of Getting Things Done.

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Editor’s noteThis week we will be posting a series of book reviews prepared by Pam Banks. These reviews are also available to watch on Roger’s TV In Business Program. See link below.

Change is Your Competitive Advantage – by Karl Schoemer

By Pam Banks

I used to think that competitive advantage was all about proficiency in a new skill or an added feature in a new product.  But Schoemer points out that the “New Business Reality” is that in an uncertain world the only certainty is that things will change.

Change is driven by technology, information and people.  The pace of change is much quicker than it was even ten years ago.  Change is not a product of a decision in a company but as a result of how interconnected we are with people, societies and businesses around the globe.  We can see this when there is a severe storm forecast in the Gulf, gas prices in Mississauga escalate overnight.

Generally, people don’t like change – we like the status quo because it’s easier.  Change always brings a measure of problems, challenges and frustrations.  In fact, when you change how you do things, your productivity always goes down initially.  No matter what the change, there are four basic dynamics of the change process including a sense of loss, ambiguity and uncertainly, deterioration of trust and the need for self- preservation.  The prospect of change is like riding the Behemoth, there’s a dichotomy between the fear and thrill – and we each have a different perspective

In a business environment the four stages we go through when faced with change are: betrayal, denial, identity crisis and search for solutions.  These stages of resistance are directly tied to the drop off in productivity.  A recent labour study determined that the average productivity of a worker during an eight-hour days is 4.8 hours.  During a transition or period of change productivity drops to 1.2 hours a day.  The key is to move through the stages quickly to reach the “search for solutions” stage.  Using your customer as a barometer will help you more accurately judge the value of change.

Effective communications is important to facilitate change.  Informative, supportive and inspirational communications are important at different stages of change.  Change has a trickle down effect because managers hear about it first and go through the phases earlier than front line employees.  Follow the rule of repetition, which says you need to tell people multiple times before you can count on it registering with them.

It’s hard to see how any work gets done when change is always present.  But it’s not ok to keep doing things the way you’ve always been doing them.  Developing an organization-wide perspective on how change works and how to accelerate it is critical.  In today’s marketplace an organization gains competitive advantage by getting to be good at change and truly creating an “adaptive culture” that can adjust quickly and effectively.

A story about a group of monkeys illustrates how change is adapted into culture.  Scientists observed a  group of monkeys on a remote island.  They left a load of potatoes on the beach and sat back to watch their behavior.  Monkeys are curious so one bit into the potato, and the next day the monkeys were waiting on the beach for the potatoes.  On the third day in the scramble for the potatoes one dropped into the water, and to one monkey’s surprise it tasted much better when it was washed.   Instead of monkey see monkey do – the potato washing monkey was ostracized from the group.  The innovator monkey was isolated because he was different.  It’s important that our organizations aren’t like the monkey groups.  If we are truly going to embrace change we need to recognize that change or innovation will make us more relevant to our organizations and our customers.

So change happens and we need to embrace it as our competitive advantage for our employers and our businesses.  Change is Your Competitive Advantage is a great read to help stay on top and ahead of change.

Pam is Commercialization Director for RIC Centre. She is a regular book reviewer on the business program  In Business on Rogers TV. Watch Pam’s review  of  Change is Your Competitive Advantage

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