Notables - October 10, 2018

Rebecca Melville
October 10, 2018

  By Craig Bamford

New Innovative Solutions Challenge: cleantech resolving plastics waste

Welcome to Notables for October 10th, 2018. This week: a set of surprisingly-linked stories about scientific research.

First this week: Innovation in cleantech and plastics!

As noted by our friends at RDP Associates, the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program is looking into the cleantech possibilities related to plastic. ISC works with stakeholders and the public to identify specific "challenges" for innovation, then partners with eligible Canadian small business with potential solutions -  providing them with both financial and logistical support for creating proofs of concept, prototypes, and even serving as a potential first buyers.

This time around, along with interesting programs involving remote interpretation and naval kinetic energy harvesting, the government has a series of "plastics challenges". Environment and Climate Change Canada is looking for improvements to the separation of mixed plastics; dealing with plastic construction waste; and better-designed, less wasteful film food packaging. Also, Transport Canada is looking for solutions for recycling or reusing glass fiber-reinforced plastic, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is seeking means to make bioplastics more compatible with home and municipal composting; and Fisheries and Oceans Canada is seeking a means to reduce or eliminate aquatic plastic pollution caused by fisheries and aquaculture.

To learn more about the program's requirements, click here.

D-Wave opens quantum computing to the public

Second this week: Public Access to Quantum Computing.

D-Wave Systems Inc., Canadian pioneers in quantum computing, will be opening up their platform to the public. Effective immediately, the public will have access to the D-Wave Leap Quantum Application Environment, a cloud-based platform providing real-time access to a live quantum computer.

Along with access to a D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer, people will be able to use the open-source Ocean quantum software development kit, which includes both built-in algorithms and the Python programming language for creating new code; as well as interactive demonstrations and examples, learning resources, and forums offering community and technical support. Already, D-Wave customers have developed 100 early applications, including airline scheduling, election modeling, automotive design, logistics, and preventative healthcare.

Developers are expressing interest; Thomas Phillips of Ridgeback Network Defense said that "I can now tackle exceptionally difficult cybersecurity problems I've only imagined solving before now", and the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)'s Senior Venture Manager, Khalid Kurji, said that "D-Wave's Quantum Application Environment...will play an important role not just in the growth of ideas we have today, but in the fostering of innovations for tomorrow."

OMERS Ventures on talent acquisition for startups and scaleups

Finally: OMERS Ventures helps with acquiring talent for startups and scaleups.

OMERS Ventures has produced a new guide to help companies with talent acquisition. Written by the firm's Talent Director, Sara Cooper, the guide identfies talent as "one of the biggest challenges a company faces", noting that it is "even more pronounced in the start-up industry". The guide looks at the issue for firms at several different stages; growing from one to 50 employees, from 50 to 100, from 100 to 150, 150 to 200, or rising past 200.

What they've found:

  • During the early 1-50 days, the focus is often on speed; talent is often scouted through employee referrals through founders' own networks, selection is often made by "gut feel" rather than a systematic process, and payment inequities can be a issue. OMERS suggests prioritizing the hiring of a recruiter; one that will help the founders decide what kind of company they really want to have, and help them find the right talent.
  • During scaleup to 150-200 people, retention starts becoming an issue, as companies face the issue of "brilliant jerks" that are productive but alienate other quality talent, as well as talent seeking upward mobility that simply may not exist in smaller organizations.  This may mean that companies should consider an HR/People Ops leader to work with the recruiter, as they'll help with retaining quality talent and ensuring that behavior guidelines are developed and skills development is emphasized among more agile talent.
  • After scaleup has begun, and the organization has over 150 or 200 employees, individuals will start feeling overwhelmed at navigating these larger companies. There will be more people working there than they're easily able to remember, compensation needs to become systematized, career paths are starting to develop, and organization "siloing" is an issue. Along with considering more HR talent, the company should also think about encouraging "collision conversations" in hallways and the like, as well as setting down cultural expectations.

For more, including a checklist on what companies should consider, click here.


Notables is a weekly collection of interesting science, technology, investment and innovation reports, press releases and other news bytes from around the web. Notables are curated and written by Craig Bamford.

Have a report or press release you want to share? Let us know!

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of RE$EARCH MONEY.


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