July 23rd, 2019

Helping students make connections

By Mabell, Dave on February 11, 2019.

Herald photo by Ian Martens
Matt Johnson, of Bloom Burton, alongside Richard Derksen, of Pfizer, Sharon Barker, of TEC Edmonton Health Accelerator, and Claire Dixon, of Neuraura Biotech, takes part in the Pharma and Biotech Conference hosted Friday at the University of Lethbridges downtown Penny Building. @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald


After earning their degrees, University of Lethbridge students may be qualified for careers in a countless number of fields. But how should they meet prospective employers?

Or how can they launch their own business?

Those questions and more are on the table during a series of conferences arranged by the university-industry liaison officer, Greg Vilk.

On Friday students met speakers from as far distant as Toronto, focusing on a variety of pharmacy and biotechnology topics. Vilk says artificial intelligence and agricultural technology are at the centre of similar conferences he’s planned this year.

“We continually bring together different sources of industry contact,” he explains.

The events are open to community and faculty members as well as students, Vilk adds. They include ample time for networking and one-on-one discussions.

He’s also in contact with Chamber of Commerce and tecconect officials as upcoming events are planned. The conferences are supported financially by the provincial government’s Alberta Innovates program, the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Last week’s event attracted speakers from a global pharmaceutical company, an Ontario business development firm, a University of Alberta “health accelerator” and the co-founder of a startup biotech business. Speakers highlighted trends in the pharma/biotech industry, and how post-secondary institutions and industry can collaborate.

The objective, officials say, is to bring industry, community and researchers together “in an effort to better understand how to translate early-stage discoveries in a fast-moving industry.”

While the U of L has well-recognized areas of expertise in neuroscience, synthetic biology, chemistry, cancer research, proteomics and bioinformatics, it’s important to demonstrate its value.

The hope is “to engage with external stakeholders, to best position the university’s applied research for successful translation to best serve society and solve unmet needs in health care.”

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