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Beyond the academic path

National program bridges the gap for emerging innovators in oceans research


By Jackey Locke

A group of Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science researchers are developing a tool to protect offshore and subsea structures from potential iceberg threats.

Man wearing a black shirt with arms folded.
Dr. Hamed Azimisiahchaghaei is one of several Memorial University researchers learning to bridge the gap between academia and the market.
Photo: Submitted

To take their research to the next level, the group’s members applied to participate in the Lab2Market Oceans Program led by the Ocean Startup Project and Memorial University.

Their decision-making, artificial intelligence (AI)-based platform is one of 19 research projects chosen from across Canada to participate in the latest and fourth cohort.

The Lab2Market Oceans Program helps academic research teams explore ocean research ideas in a new way and identify new commercial opportunities.

Canada’s commitment to Paris Agreement

The project, led by Dr. Hodjat Shiri, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering, includes Dr. Hamed Azimisiahchaghaei (PhD’23), an entrepreneurial lead and a post-doctoral researcher at Memorial.

He says that being able to accurately predict iceberg drafts, or thickness of icebergs below the water, and soil deformations can minimize the cost of iceberg management operations and contribute to more efficient and cost-effective designs of offshore and subsea structures.

“Ultimately, the tool I am developing will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which aligns with Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach,” said Dr. Azimisiahchaghaei.

The impact of his research is threefold, he says: minimized cost and time requirements of iceberg management; improved safety and resilience of offshore structures by incorporating AI and data analysis; and a reduced carbon footprint associated with such operations.

“The program provides a platform for researchers like me to bridge the gap between academia and the market.” — Dr. Hamed Azimisiahchaghaei 

As part of the program, Dr. Azimisiahchaghaei will collaborate with industry experts.

He says translating theoretical knowledge into tangible solutions is priceless.

“The program provides a platform for researchers like me to bridge the gap between academia and the market,” he said. “The invaluable support, mentorship and resources offered have been instrumental in shaping the trajectory of my research towards real-world applications.”

‘Business hat’

Man wearing a black suit and tie smiles at camera.
Dr. Hossein Janbazi
Photo: Submitted

Memorial post-doctoral researcher Dr. Hossein Janbazi (PhD’23) is also an entrepreneurial lead on Dr. Shiri’s team.

Dr. Janbazi’s research focuses on extending the overall lifespan of subsea pipelines.

He says that improving the lifetime and accuracy of subsea pipeline design can have far-reaching positive impacts by ensuring reliable energy supplies, protecting the environment, fostering economic development, enhancing safety and promoting global energy accessibility.

He also says that creating a business plan based on a target market has given him the tools to think commercially.

“Participating in this program has been an excellent experience that has equipped me with valuable insights into wearing a business hat,” Dr. Janbazi said. “I’ve been trained to create a business model canvas, validate business hypotheses by engaging with potential customers to understand their needs, preferences and pain points, and ultimately develop a successful plan.”

Ocean crashing into rock

National program

Hosted by Memorial’s Research Innovation Office, Lab2Market Oceans provides an opportunity for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and their faculty supervisors to work closely with highly skilled industry mentors from the oceans sector.

Participants are encouraged to explore their passion for innovation and entrepreneurism and take their findings beyond the typical academic path into the world of innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization.

They learn about stakeholder engagement, intellectual property and revenue stream and other areas, from industry experts.

Woman wearing a white blouse and black pants stands near the ocean.
Dr. Paula Mendonça
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“The integration of academic excellence with industry expertise not only elevates research efforts but positions these teams to emerge as global leaders in shaping the sustainable future of our oceans,” said Dr. Paula Mendonça, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Memorial University. “The Lab2Market Oceans program is so much more than oceans research and innovation, which is important. It is also about expanding on professional networks and meaningful collaborations between academia and industry.”

Learn more

The Lab2Market program is part of the Ocean Startup Project and supported by Springboard Atlantic, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Mitacs and the University of Victoria.

More about the program is online.

The program at Memorial is focused on ocean-related research. This year, 11 of the 19 participants are from Memorial, which includes teams from the faculties of Science, Engineering and Applied Science, and the Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development at the Marine Institute.

Other participating universities include the University of Victoria, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, École de technologie supérieure, Saint Mary’s University, York University and the University of New Brunswick.

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