Success Stories

The Medical Innovation Fellowship Effect: Catalyzing My Path to Real-World Solutions.

on December 20, 2023

By: Durwesh Kadri

It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot. This is one reality of entrepreneurship, and imperatively, so are the mentors that groom that pilot, cautioning him whenever the entrepreneurial spirit writes cheques the body can’t cash. This sums up my time in the Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) program, facilitated by WORLDiscoveries, the business development office at Western University.

As I embarked on my professional journey in Canada, I faced a pivotal choice. After my Master’s in Public Health, and a few entrepreneurial stumbles under my belt — learnings, as I prefer to call them — I stood at a crossroads: dive into the workforce or take a leap of faith. Driven by a lifelong dream of entrepreneurship and a passion for healthcare innovation, I chose the path of the Medical Innovation Fellowship. This wasn’t just another educational program; it was a launchpad into the world of entrepreneurship.

Since my younger days, entrepreneurship was more than just owning a business to me; it was a way of life. It meant grabbing the bull by its horns and making things happen against all odds. But in a new country, the path to this dream was cluttered with hurdles: a sparse network, lack of mentors, and knowledge gaps.

The Medical Innovation Fellowship was my opportunity to fill these gaps and supercharge my entrepreneurial spirit. Far from a traditional academic setting, this fellowship thrust me into the entrepreneurship ecosystem, where I learned from lived experiences, connected with key players, and got mentoring from the best in the field.

The mentorship I received transcended beyond textbooks. It encompassed practical, real-world insights by seasoned entrepreneurs. These mentors guided me through the intricacies of the business landscape, offering invaluable lessons and strategies rooted in their own experiences. I also developed invaluable relationships with the mentors resulting in some becoming a permanent part of my journey.

In the fellowship, I learned a vast array of skills including recognizing root causes through observation and in-depth interviews, especially with physicians. I learned the art of asking tough questions, cutting through the fluff to the real issues. This experience reinforced that answers in the real world aren’t binary; they are shades of probability that require nuanced understanding. Above all, I learned that action trumps theory. Being immersed in the start-up world and business development, I put theory into practice, developing business strategies, understanding market dynamics, as I moved closer to my entrepreneurial goals.

In my current public health role, I am applying the skills gained from my fellowship aiming to increase the efficacy of public health programs. One key skill I’m applying is the ability to conduct interviews with clinicians, a technique I refined during my fellowship. By supporting these discussions with clinicians, I aim to define fundamental challenges they encounter in collaborating with public health initiatives. This direct engagement not only sheds light on existing barriers but also informs the development of more effective collaboration strategies.

In addition to this, I’ve integrated principles of design thinking and hedge fund frameworks into planning and evaluating public health programs. Leveraging these methodologies, I have crafted a toolkit designed to apply a venture evaluation lens to public health projects, particularly those with a focus on healthcare professional engagement. It is rooted in evidence-based practices and aids in thorough planning and preliminary evaluation of public health initiatives. By merging these diverse approaches, I am working towards creating public health programs that are not only more efficient and effective but also attuned to the real-world challenges and needs, especially of healthcare professionals.

Today, I stand ready to make measurable contributions to public health, equipped with experiences and connections from MIF. My journey has been about transforming a vision into reality by solving ‘wicked’ problems as it’s not our abilities that show who we truly are, it’s our choices (Albus Dumbledore).

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Celebrating Women Innovators and Research Commercialization: Announcing the Winners of the WE-Empower! Program Fund

on June 28, 2023

By: Maria Varon, WORLDiscoveries

We are delighted to announce the exceptional winners of the WE-Empower! Program Fund, a groundbreaking initiative developed by WORLDiscoveries. This transformative program has successfully concluded its inaugural round, showcasing self-identifying women’s immense talent and potential in research commercialization.

Exceptional Grant Recipients

The WE-Empower! Program Fund offers two $50,000 grants to WE-Empower! participants who are on the leading edge of research innovation. These grants allow the winners to begin their journey toward research commercialization. This year’s distinguished grant recipients are Meagan Furnivall and Erin Iredale.

Meagan is a Registered Midwife and Clinical Research Lead for the London Health Sciences Centre Department of Midwifery. Meagan’s project focuses on developing groundbreaking technology to enhance the safety and experience of skin-to-skin contact during cesarean birth.

Dr. Erin Iredale holds a Ph.D. in Medical Biophysics CAMPEP from Western University. Erin leads a dedicated team of researchers focused on discovering novel electrotherapeutic strategies for treating aggressive brain cancers in both adult and pediatric patients. Erin will continue her journey with Western as a recently appointed Postdoctoral Fellow.

Empowering Women in the Innovation Landscape

The WE-Empower! program, developed by WORLDiscoveries, is a free eight-month mentorship and educational program designed to unite innovative and entrepreneurial individuals who self-identify as women. WE-Empower! covers topics such as entrepreneurship, research commercialization, and Intellectual Property protection.

By providing support and training from expert industry leaders and our WORLDiscoveries business development professionals, WE-Empower! aims to promote the development of new innovations.  

Phase I: Ideation (September to December)

During this initial phase, participants engage in educational seminars and panel discussions led by esteemed industry experts. They gain invaluable insights into various aspects of business development, including entrepreneurship, intellectual property strategy, market research, and business planning. Equipped with newfound knowledge and valuable connections, participants begin their journey toward technology transfer and research commercialization.

Phase II: Innovation (January to April)

In Phase II, participants translate the knowledge acquired in Phase I into action by applying it to their innovative projects. With unwavering support from the WORLDiscoveries team, they explore funding opportunities and transform their groundbreaking ideas into commercially viable ventures. The program fosters a collaborative and supportive environment that empowers participants to navigate the complexities of bringing their research to the market.

Inspiring a Brighter Future

The exceptional talent, dedication, and entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated by the grant winners Erin and Meagan is truly inspiring. Their innovative projects will drive positive change in the innovation ecosystem. The achievements of Meagan Furnivall, Erin Iredale, and their fellow participants exemplify the program’s commitment to empowering women in research commercialization and technology transfer. With access to invaluable resources and a nurturing environment, these women are poised to impact and shape a brighter future for all significantly.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the winners of the WE-Empower! Program Fund and express our deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported this remarkable initiative.

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Dr. Margaret Mutumba: A Trailblazing Advocate for Global Health Equity

on June 14, 2023

By: Maria Varon, WORLDiscoveries

Enhancing Healthcare Access, Empowering Communities, and Fostering Innovation

Dr. Margaret Mutumba, PhD., is a renowned figure in the field of public health, celebrated for her outstanding academic accomplishments, groundbreaking research, and an exceptional career. She has emerged as a trailblazing public health advocate with an unwavering commitment to improving global health outcomes and promoting health equity.

Program Director of Frugal Biomedical Innovations at Western University, Dr. Mutumba, leads a multi-disciplinary initiative focused on co-designing, developing, and deploying innovative medical technologies that enhance healthcare access for patients in remote and low-resource regions. With a Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences from the University of Waterloo, her expertise lies in public health, health policy, and strengthening health systems. Her extensive experience in international health and development, particularly in low-resource settings, positions her as a leading expert in the field.

Enhancing Global Health through Education and Advocacy

Dr. Mutumba recognizes the importance of education and advocacy in global healthcare, emphasizing the significance of knowledge and raising awareness for better health outcomes. She believes fostering change requires understanding the beliefs and social-political issues within the communities she aims to innovate. As an innovator, she seeks to create bridges with partners at the leadership level in any community, ensuring that the impact of technology and innovation is understood and embraced. Dr. Mutumba states, “You have to think of the beliefs and social-political issues in a community you want to innovate” and “As an innovator, you aim to create a bridge with partners at the leadership level in any community.”

Empowering Communities and Overcoming Challenges

Passionate about addressing critical health challenges, Dr. Mutumba’s focus extends to maternal care, addressing infertility issues in Africa, and combating the stigmatization surrounding infertility in the African community. She founded MedAtlas, a healthcare start-up application that connects individuals with specialist doctors across Africa. Through this initiative, she actively collaborates with African professionals and experts, enabling individuals needing specialized care to access the right resources. Dr. Mutumba expresses her enthusiasm: “It’s exciting to work with professionals and experts from the African continent.”

Collaboration and Innovation for Global Health

Dr. Mutumba’s exceptional expertise has earned recognition from esteemed organizations such as the World Health Organization, where she has served as a consultant, and the Canadian Association for Global Health, where she holds a board member position. Her remarkable achievements, innovative thinking, and commitment to improving global health position her as an inspirational figure in the field, inspiring professionals to follow in her footsteps. She highlights the collaborative and supportive environment she experiences in her role, working closely with BioNext at Robarts Research Institute and WORLDiscoveries, Western University’s business development office. Dr. Mutumba emphasizes, “These partnerships foster collaboration between researchers, clinicians, and technology experts, simplifying complex public health needs into obtainable goals.”

Building a Healthier Future

Dr. Mutumba’s exemplary academic achievements, groundbreaking research, and unique career place her at the forefront of global public health. She emphasizes the vital role of inspiring the next generation and actively mentors aspiring public health professionals. Dr. Mutumba’s remarkable journey exemplifies the transformative power of research innovation.

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Meet Our Team: Dr. Tristan Harrison – A Visionary Leader Driving Business Growth

on June 12, 2023

By: Maria Varon, WORLDiscoveries

Dr. Tristan Harrison is a Business Development Manager at WORLDiscoveries, bringing a diverse background and over 10 years of experience in R&D. WORLDiscoveries is a Technology Transfer and Business Development organization that acts as a vital link between academic research and industry. Their mission is to facilitate the commercialization of innovative ideas and inventions by providing comprehensive support in patenting, market analysis, business development, and licensing through their extensive network and industry partnerships.

Embracing Growth and Driving Innovation
Dr. Harrison has a Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry from Western University and has a unique blend of technical expertise and business acumen. Driven by a passion for commercialization, he excels in bridging the gap between academia and industry, fostering collaborations and strategic partnerships.

“As a trained scientist and a researcher, and relatively new to technology transfer, marketing new research coming from the University has been the biggest learning curve,” says Dr. Harrison, highlighting his continuous pursuit of learning and growth. “I truly enjoy learning about innovative research,” he adds, emphasizing his enthusiasm for discovering new ideas and applications.

A Natural Connector and Strategic Mind
As an inspiring leader, Dr. Harrison empowers individuals to leverage their strengths and unlock their potential. His primary focus is commercializing engineering and science-related research, guiding innovators through patenting, marketing efforts, and industry partnerships. As well as facilitating the development of application-specific market products through experimentation and trials.

“I have a soft spot for research,” Dr. Harrison admits. “However, I enjoy creating these partnerships and discovering the work needed to commercialize an invention.” This quote reflects his passion for research and collaboration, showcasing his dedication to driving innovation and creating mutually beneficial outcomes.

“I enjoy creating partnerships between academia and industry and helping commercialize research.”

Dr. Tristan Harrison

By exploring alternative applications and creating partnerships, he helps researchers find new avenues for their work.

Dr. Tristan Harrison’s leadership qualities and dedication to driving business growth make him an invaluable asset to the WORLDiscoveries team. His ability to bridge the gap between academia and industry to foster collaborations reflects his dedication to driving innovation and creating impactful outcomes. Dr. Harrison’s contributions to our team are instrumental in shaping a thriving and prosperous future for WORLDiscoveries.

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From World to Beyond: WE-Empower! Celebrates Western Professor Innovative Research

on March 7, 2023

By: Maria Varon, WORLDiscoveries

Every year on March 8, people worldwide celebrate International Women’s Day. This global day recognizes and celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. This year, as we #EmbraceEquity, WE-Empower! (a program for people who self-identify as women from faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students at Western University), is excited to celebrate Dr. Jayshri Sabarinathan. Dr. Sabarinathan is a WE-Empower! participant and who recently submitted a Report on Invention (ROI) to Western University’s Tech Transfer Office, WORLDiscoveries. 

Dr. Sabarinathan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was previously the Associate Director of Training (2019-2022) at Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. She obtained her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research expertise is in developing novel nano-photonic sensors, integrated photonics, and miniature remote sensing instrumentation.

From the World to Beyond: 

Dr. Sabarinathan has worked in multi-spectral imaging for remote sensing applications for the last seven years. Inspired to build a customized multi-spectral camera for agriculture monitoring, she and her team developed custom multi-spectral imager instrumentation for unmanned aerial vehicle-based and mobile robot-based remote sensing. This has applications in precision agriculture and geological classification. This work led her to The Canada Space Agency, where Dr. Sabarinathan became involved with the Integrated Visions System Project led by Dr. Osinski (the PI and Science Lead at Western University). Dr. Sabarinathan and her team have demonstrated a compact dual-sensor multi-spectral imager for a lunar rover application capable of characterizing the lunar surface geology. 

 “What’s exciting about this multi-spectral imager is that we use a dual sensor with an extended spectral range from the visible and near-infrared to the short-wave infrared, thus allowing us to recognize more lunar mineral signatures,” explains Dr. Sabarinathan. “We also realized that this instrument can be used in many applications. This led us to apply for an ROI with WORLDiscoveries. We hope to commercialize and potentially use it for other applications such as mining and air quality monitoring.” 


Dr. Sabarinathan is a current participant in an inaugural program led by WORLDiscoveries. It creates opportunities for women to turn their innovations into business opportunities. Funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund, the WE-Empower! The program provides year-round mentorship for principal investigators, faculty, postdoctoral trainees, and graduate students who self-identify as women. The program works to support and train these researchers on the technology transfer process, research commercialization options, intellectual property (IP), and entrepreneurship. “The WE-Empower program educates women faculty on navigating the commercialization process while introducing them to available resources and networks at WORLDiscoveries and within the region.”

Dr. Sabarinathan is also a co-founder of LightSail, a start-up which develops integrated photonic solutions for the aerospace industry sector. “Being part of this start-up also led me to join the WE-Empower! program as it provides resources on how to take research to commercialization and learn the right way to do it,” she says. 

Staying Inspired 

Today, Dr. Sabarinathan is pioneering innovative ways to lead impactful research to publications and guiding her students with the skills to be successful in the space industry. “This industry is growing in Canada and worldwide,” Dr. Sabarinathan explains. “We want to see our research impact people and be used by other researchers.” When talking about her inspirations, Dr. Sabarinathan describes her drive as having a dream and staying focused on that dream. “It’s important (…) not to let challenges stop you from achieving your dream. Some of the best advice I have received is: It might take someone a certain amount of time to achieve a goal, and it might take someone else a shorter amount of time. It does not matter either way as long as the goal is achieved”  

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