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Capstone Collaboration

Since 2017 teams of Dalhousie Engineering students have been solving technical problems for industry and gaining real-world experience through the Dalhousie Engineering Capstone Program.

NovaResp, a Halifax based startup headquartered at the Emera ideaHUB, monitors respiratory health through sleep apnea and CPAP machines using a mixture of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a hardware device.

And it is a company that, in the past, has enjoyed many benefits from collaborating with Capstone teams.

The company’s first proof of concept prototype was developed with the assistance mechanical and electrical engineering capstone groups. The Capstone project sponsored during the 2019-2020 year resulted in a new employee and a new innovative product design which led to a patent application for the company.

“Not only does a Capstone project allow a company to address a problem that may not have been an immediate need, start-up companies don’t typically have enough capital to spend on these smaller projects,” said NovaResp’s founder and President, Dr. Hamed Hanafi.

“Collaborating with these student teams helps us prepare for growth down the road.”

In total NovaResp has sponsored five Capstone teams, hiring three students once their projects were completed. One of those students is Matthew Hickey, who is currently an employee at NovaResp.

“The Capstone Design Program gave me a lot of firsts: First big leadership opportunity, first project in a medical related field and first job after graduation,” said Hickey.

“The program afforded me valuable experience and invaluable professional connections within the medical field and kick-started my career in biomedical engineering.”

The Faculty of Engineering supports 100 Capstone projects every year with roughly 80% supported by industry partners.  NovaResp was able to sponsor its Capstone projects by leveraging Springboard’s Innovation Mobilization (IM) and Industry Engagement (IE) funds. Hanafi said his company has engaged with Springboard’s Industry Engagement Professionals (IEPs) since day one, accessing our member’s expertise to navigate the world of research grants and funding proposals.

“Throughout the years, ILI has been my first stop regarding advice for the market and IP strategy,” said Hanafi. “Every industry sponsored grant goes through ILI, which has been helpful for me as a researcher and for my company as industry partner.”