Startups and Academia: A Love Story

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Two graduate students pursuing Masters of Science in Chemistry met at a workshop for entrepreneurs and decided to start a company to reduce rates of infections.

Their startup, Lunanos Inc., works to produce cleaning indicators – stickers that would reduce the rates of infections in hospitals and medical facilities.

UTWe have developed a cleaning indicator: It’s a sticker that could be applied to anything in the facility, and there’s a coating on this indicator that changes colour when you apply a surface disinfectant,” cofounder Scott McAuley told BetaKit. “After a certain period of time, that can be set to 12 hours, 24 hours, or longer – the colour slowly changes back. Part of the design allows hospitals to set a timeframe for how frequently anything in the facility should be cleaned. When the colour of indicator is wrong, it helps identify equipment that needs disinfectant.”

A typical startup story often begins with two co-founders meeting at a university. Lunanos Inc. is currently based out of The Impact Centre at U of T, and uses its wet labs and other equipment to carry out all the necessary research. Most recently, Lunanos has lined up several hospitals to test its cleaning indicator sticker coated with its ink formulation. It’s easy to see one side has been disinfected and wiped – it’s a different colour (orange) than the other side.

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McAuley said simply being part of the community and having lunch with a lot of other people who are starting up companies has been amazing. “It’s great just to sit over lunch and talk to people in the same situations, and doing really interesting things has been a huge help and support.”

University of Toronto anchors a growing entrepreneurial hub

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“A strong university helps builds a strong city. And the strong city help build a strong university,” said Meric Gertler, new president of U of T.

In the last three years, U of T students and faculty created 63 start-up companies — more than any other North American university, including Harvard, MIT, CalTech and others, Gertler said in his first major speech called “University and The City.”

“The recent explosion of entrepreneurial activity at U of T has been fostered by initiatives like the Rotman School’s Creative Destruction Lab, the Engineering Hatchery, and the Impact Centre in the Faculty of Arts & Science,” said Gertler. “We are now at the core of an evolving ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation-nurturing institutions, including our affiliated research hospitals, the MaRS Discovery District, Ryerson’s DMZ, and other players.”

Read Also: MaRS Discovery District Can’t Pay Money Back After Huge Bailout Hid by Kathleen Wynne

AND MaRS Directors, CEO Fire Back: “There Were No Documents That Should be in the Public Domain”

He also cautioned the city and the community, which cannot “afford to be complacent.” That rings true like never before.

For our startup ecosystems to succeed, it would be wise to work together. It takes a village to raise a startup.

Elena Yunusov

Elena Yunusov

Elena Yunusov works at the intersection of digital communications and experience design. She is known in Toronto’s startup community as a HoHoTO & Toronto Maker Faire co-organizer. She likes coffee, robots, and wearable tech.