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Bridging the Gap: Finding the perfect industry fit

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In our ongoing Bridging the Gap series, we’ve highlighted the technologies our Innovation Mobilization (IM) fund has supported, and the impact of our Industry Engagement (IE) fund and its role in the commercialization process.

In today’s Bridging the Gap, we’re discussing one of the hidden perks of Springboard Atlantic’s role in the innovation ecosystem. Springboards wide breadth of industry connections, relationships and strategic partnerships is a key part of shaping the business development around the technologies produced in our universities.

This was made clear in the development of a new company born out of the University of New Brunswick. 3D Planeta is a 3D imaging company that uses software to turn 2D maps into 3D birds-eye-view maps.

The technology was developed by Dr. Yun Zhang at UNB. When he approached the institutions technology transfer offices, he had a few ideas for its industry applications.

“Dr. Zhang had some ideas about what markets to tackle, one of which as tourism,” said Brennan Sisk, the technology transfer officer at UNB who helped Zhang, in an email.

“So I took that idea and started exploring how we could create some opportunities for the software.”

Sisk and Zhang began developing a project proposal for Destination Canada in the spring of 2017.

It was then that they came to Springboard, seeking IM funding in order to travel to Ottawa for meetings with Destination Canada.

“(Zhang) was traveling to Ottawa the following February because he was chosen by CFI (Canadian Foundation for Innovation) to showcase his technology,” said Sisk.

“So we decided it was a good time to visit the person from Destination Canada. But we also took the opportunity to meet with other folks, this time the department of defence.”

Though the meetings with Destination Canada went well, it became clear to Sisk and Zhang that there were other applications for the 3D mapping software. The duo met with Major Tom Batty, who piqued the researchers interest in the military applications of the mapping software.

This is when the project made a huge pivot.

What was pitched as a product for the tourism industry morphed into a mapping tool for the Canadian military. A small team began to form around Zhang’s mapping software, including Springboards former CEO, Chris Mathis as its executive chairman and acting CEO, Major Tom Batty and serial entrepreneur, Norm Couturier.

In March 2018 the company was created.

The software has been identified as a commercial fit for the Build in Canada Innovation Program so the 3D Planeta team submitted its application that could land it $1 million in funding.

Today, the company continues to grow out of UNB and has a handful of license opportunities headed down the pipeline, according to Sisk.

Without Springboards connections, the researchers behind 3D Planeta would not have taken the trip to Ottawa where crucial connections and pivots were made to turn the project into the company it is today.

We are thrilled with how this project is #springboarding forward and we’re excited to track the progress of this ongoing collaboration in the years to come.