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Ty Shattuck, CEO, McMaster Innovation Park | Image by Richard Allen

Innovation Ecosystem Centrepiece of W Booth School ShowcaseDecember 20, 2018

Our school performs an important role in advancing an “innovation ecosystem” needed to transform promising ideas into successful businesses.

We help students and graduates create value through collaborating with others. Over time, these human interactions spark the new products and services that fuel economic growth, jobs and prosperity.

Earlier this month, we hosted our annual Fall Innovation Showcase at Hamilton Central Library Auditorium in downtown Hamilton. It provided a public platform for six teams of graduate engineering students to present work in progress emerging from Innovation Studio, an experiential course that unpacks the innovation process. The studio is currently facilitated by Professor David Potter in partnership with faculty colleagues and staff.

The showcase event began with a presentation by Ty Shattuck, CEO of McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), a creative hub aligned with the research strengths of McMaster University, including biotechnologies, advanced manufacturing and materials, automotive, and aerospace. Prior to joining MIP earlier this year, Shattuck held various senior leadership positions in the digital media, aerospace and venture capital industries. His talk was titled, “Building an Innovation Ecosystem: An Ultimate Systems Engineering Problem.”

Click HERE to Access the Complete Audio Recording of Shattuck’s Presentation

Shattuck zeroed in on what he believes is the core challenge: Improving the overall innovation process that takes a discovery through to a profitable business application. By most measures, the current success rate is a mere three percent. Shattuck asked: “How do we increase the yield?” He addressed this question by citing elements of a strategy to help strengthen the innovation ecosystem at MIP. It will boil down to creating an environment that brings talent, ideas and markets tightly together. Shattuck likened it to a dance — the closer, the better.

First, MIP will increase its mix of tenants and clients to reflect the breadth of inputs required to bring ideas to life. This means securing new players in fields ranging from business and finance to public policy and the arts. And it will require a larger proportion of established companies with scale-up potential. According to Shattuck, a growing number of scale-ups are now being purchased by third-party investors hungry for healthy returns. This will help drive a “growth imperative" among local companies with topline revenues in the range of $20- to $100-million, said Shattuck. This targeted activity will complement ongoing supports for start-ups. Additional large enterprises will also provide a landing pad for the ideas of local entrepreneurs. “Innovation and entrepreneurialism are not the sole domain of start-ups,” said Shattuck.

Second, MIP will invest in amenities and activities that promote collaboration. These include eateries, gathering places and “interesting” programming. Shattuck thinks these improvements will boost social interaction. “Innovation is a team sport,” he said.

Third, MIP will “turn up the volume” on marketing and promotion needed to attract people, attention and capital. Shattuck is eager to tell the world about the amazing work happening at the park and across the local innovation ecosystem.

Shattuck closed his talk by complimenting our school’s intentional focus on innovation through community engagement and social interaction.

The remainder of the agenda featured a diverse selection of graduate student presentations and opportunities for audience interaction. The presentations were:

  • GLOCAL Strengthening community through homemade international cuisine
  • HOUND Improving the landlord-tenant relational experience
  • Samkids Unlocking the special gifts and talents of every child
  • Waste Diversion in Multi-Residential Buildings Advancing city-wide recycling
  • Optimizing Lifecycles for Building Designs A new model in construction planning
  • Smart Aquaponics Farming Boosting productivity and quality through digitization

These and other student projects will continue to grow and evolve during the coming months based on ongoing feedback from stakeholders.

A special thanks to Anas Anwar Magi — our student master of ceremonies — and to the staff at Hamilton Central Library Auditorium.

Plan to attend our next showcase event scheduled for Spring 2019.

Image: Ty Shattuck, CEO of McMaster Innovation Park, shares insights on how to build an innovation ecosystem at an event hosted by the W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology in December 2018.