Fraunhofer at AMP

on May 27, 2019

The windows wrap like a windshield around The Collider Centre for Technology Commercialization at Western’s Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP). They look out one way to the Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment (WindEEE) Dome, and the other to the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research
at Western (FPC@Western).

This newest AMP building, opened in June 2014, was designed to hasten the collision of ideas for applied research – to make it easy for scientists, technicians and engineers to interact with business partners and creative types and move innovations to market. One point of contact is The Collider’s atrium — with flexible seating for conversations, lectures or casual lunches. The views out to the WindEEE Dome and the FPC@Western inspire possibilities.

This unique campus, sprouting from an old farm field, is a Western joint venture with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology. Fraunhofer is the global leader in applied research. John Capone, Western Vice-President Research says that the FPC@Western has created a multiplier effect. “It’s an ecosystem that we are building here,” he says. “The WindEEE Dome is not yet open, but they just tested their first tornado. The whole thrust is to link discoveries to applications and benefits. That is the Fraunhofer model of applied research. We have the biggest press in North America and can do things at an industrial scale.”

The FPC@Western opened in 2012 with a Dieffenbacher 2500 tonne compression moulding press. The facility expanded in 2013/14 to accommodate a new range of injection molding presses. Contract research clients pay a fee for the FPC@Western expertise and facilities – and are fully booked through 2014.

Capone says that the FPC@Western attracts talent – both seasoned executives and young entrepreneurs and graduates. “You have people here with a profit and loss mentality and they want to test products. These are wonderful partnerships and the opportunity is huge,” he says. “They need external validation. The University’s role is to act as a catalyst. What research we do should create an impact.”

Right now, there are 7 applied research specialties in composites, including: resin transfer; automated preforming and compression molding technologies; injection molding of long fibre reinforced thermoplastics; thermoplastic tape lying and thermosetting; and fibre reinforced composites based on sheet molding compounds. These are the in-demand composite materials for the auto, aerospace, renewable energy and advanced building products industries. “We will be known for new materials, new methods of sustainability and new ways to measure productivity,” says Capone.

Tobias Potyra has been manager of operations at the FPC@Western since 2011. He says the highlight of his Canadian work experience has been industry’s rapid embrace of Fraunhofer’s model of applied research. “In Germany, 40-50% of our programs are with private industry partners,” he says. “Here – almost 80-90% of our projects are with industry. It has exceeded expectations.”

The toughest challenge for adapting the Fraunhofer model to Canada was the stark difference in the education system. “In Germany when you get your PhD there are no classes. You work as an engineer in industry or in a Fraunhofer institute and interact with industry,” he says. “In Canada, there is less exposure to industry until you graduate.”

Potyra hopes that going forward more money can be dedicated to funding young trainees and staff in all the strands of composite research. “We need a specialist for each technology,” he says. “You could easily employ 2-3 engineers in each composite specialty and keep them busy.”

Like Capone, Potyra sees synergies between the FPC@Western and the WindEEE Dome in alternative energy. “For wind turbines, we can make parts and test them at WindEEE, or try and test a new shape in composites that cannot be made in metal,” he says. This may be the perfect storm for the future
of advanced manufacturing.

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Annexin A5

on May 27, 2019

Paul Paolatto, former executive director of WORLDiscoveries, has worked with Ting since 2009 to build the Asia market.

He says their experience and capacity in China is a marketable asset and credits John Capone, Western’s Vice-President Research and WORLDiscoveries Board Chair, with the idea of brokering deals in China for other Canadian universities. “John wanted to expand the traditional exchange of students and faculty to feature technology and innovations,” he says. “We have the biggest footprint of deals, actual cash flow and licensing opportunities in China. This is a wheel that he wants to turn for others across Canada.”

The University of Guelph came to WORLDiscoveries in 2013 with a list of innovations of potential interest to Chinese partners. “They have a technology that measures the nitrogen concentration in soils or the nitrogen uptake in plants,” for example, says Ting. He helped Guelph sign an exclusive Intellectual Property Option Agreement with a Chinese agri-science company in 2014.

WORLDiscoveries Asia has a range of innovative deals. Paolatto points to a joint venture for some imaging technologies developed at Robarts that had not found a Canadian investor. “WORLDiscoveries licensed the technology. We monetized the patent and traded royalties for shares,” he says. “Our partner is doing the manufacturing and regulatory work for the Chinese market. We retain worldwide rights and that is where the upside is.”
Ting says it is important to understand that signing agreements in China often kick-starts greater innovation. “When we license technologies we don’t let go of ownership, control or long-term options,” he says. We stand to benefit from the successful R&D work that licensees do for us. Every inch they move the product forward drives up the value that we retain.”

“WORLDiscoveries Asia is not just Western University’s technology transfer office in Asia. We will work for all research institutions in Ontario and Canada to promote their projects.” – Ling Ting

This can be particularly valuable in the pharmaceutical industry – notorious in North America for requiring, at minimum, a decade of deep pockets. Ting says U.S. companies see China as a validation opportunity for clinical trials. “We ask our licensees to use international standards like those approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) – which has an office in China,” he says. “So if we succeed in China, companies come to us and are willing to pay more for a licensing agreement.”

WORLDiscoveries’ relationship with Yabao Pharma and the development of Annexin 5 is a case in point.

With five years of successful operating experience, Ting and his team are well-positioned to help the Canadian research and development sector accelerate innovation with willing partners. “WORLDiscoveries Asia is not just Western University’s technology transfer office in Asia,” says Ting.

“We will work for all research institutions in Ontario and Canada to promote their projects.”

Sepsis, caused by severe infection, is the globe’s leading cause of mortality; 6 million people will die annually out of 18 million reported cases. Sepsis is an equal opportunity killer – laying low the wealthy and poor, young and old, the sick and relatively healthy. You simply need an open wound and exposure to the wrong bacteria. Sepsis can provoke a rapid cascade of toxins in the body that untreated, can result in multi-organ failure. Treatment often requires intensive care at a huge cost.

Dr. Qingping Feng of Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, trained as a cardiologist in China, and obtained his PhD in pharmacology in Sweden. He eventually joined Lawson Health Research Institute’s Centre for Critical Illness Research to work on sepsis. “We needed a marker to study cell death – it’s called apoptosis,” he says. “Annexin A5 is a naturally occurring protein that is used to label cells undergoing cell death.”

Dr. Feng says that during multi-organ failure, once the infection reaches the heart, mortality is over 50%. He knew if they could inhibit the cell’s inflammatory response they could control it and protect the heart. “We demonstrated that annexin A5 blocks the receptor (TLR4) which in turn blocks inflammation in sepsis. WORLDiscoveries helped us with the

patent application in 2009.” One key finding is that annexin A5 has shown a fivefold increase in survival during animal trials.
Kirk Brown, a Lawson’s Manager, Business Development at WORLDiscoveries says the Yabao Pharmaceutical Group came to London as part of a Chinese delegation and quickly grasped the potential. “The chairman of Yabao found Dr. Feng’s presentation interesting,” says Brown. “Within a few months, the licensing agreement was ready to go.”

Annexin A5 already has a proven safety record for use in humans from radiolabeling imaging studies. Yabao, WORLDiscoveries and Dr. Feng are optimistic it will prove safe for humans in clinical trials.

A signing ceremony was held July 18, 2014 to mark the Yabao-WORLDiscoveries licensing agreement. Dr. David Hill, Lawson’s scientific director, was jubilant about the prospects for annexin A5 and grateful for China’s investment. “Once in a lifetime a scientist can make a discovery that can save hundreds if not millions of lives and Qingping is now in that position.”

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Global Edge, WD Asia

on May 27, 2019

For WORLDiscoveries Asia, Chinese and Canadian interests define the yin and yang of deal making – two opposing but complementary sides of risk vs. reward that interact to form a dynamic system where the sum is greater than the parts.

Ling Ting, Director of WORLDiscoveries Asia, says this duality benefits both markets. Without China’s risk appetite many promising innovations would stay here on the shelf. “Early stage technologies are tough to commercialize in Canada because of its small market and limited capital pool,” he says. “What is required is investment from places like China where the economy is booming and industry has the capacity to invest.”

Founded in Hong Kong in 2011, WORLDiscoveries Asia expanded in 2012 to Nanjing – a science and technology powerhouse that enjoys sisterhood status with the
City of London. As well, top-ranked Nanjing University and Western University enjoy sisterhood status, as does the province of Jiangsu with Ontario — so these relationships have become a sort of family affair. In 2014, WORLDiscoveries opened an office in Tianjin, an important coastal city near Beijing.

WORLDiscoveries Asia has a multilingual team and Ting says it is imperative to have a plan and the time to understand how to do business with the Chinese. “Lots of institutions visit China and hope for deals to happen. They never just happen. What many people underestimate is the importance of following up,” he says.

“Early-stage technologies are tough to commercialize in Canada because of its small market and limited capital pool.”

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Student entrepreneurship centre

on May 27, 2019

Students can be natural entrepreneurs, with their finger on the pulse of the lucrative, under-25 marketplace. But their talent is often overlooked because of youth and inexperience.

Student leaders at Western University thought this was a mistake. In 2010, the University Students’ Council (USC) created a student business incubator they named BizInc. to seek-out, support and promote student enterprises.

Matt Helfand, the current USC president, described its initial roots. “It started with lots of bootstrapping and students selling things in the USC basement in a pop-up,” he said. “But then Fanshawe College and the USC got on board together and made a pitch to the province. That got us the Campus Linked Accelerator.”

This unique cross-town dynamic will strengthen entrepreneurial capacity at both institutions and makes the Campus Linked Accelerator a Canadian model for student entrepreneurship. Helfand says hundreds of student entrepreneurs have come to the centre for help. “One of our most successful start-ups is DPMS – a clothing and graphics company that sells online and at festivals,” he says. “DPMS won our Seed your Start-up contest, which creates a good buzz. Another big win has been Textbooks for Change — a way to recycle textbooks for good causes.”

With new funding, a new full-time director in Ian Haase and a closer affiliation with Western University, Helfand predicts the new Student Entrepreneurship Centre will tap into the local business community to help more students. “The idea of learning here at university is so important. Our philosophy is that education extends well beyond the classroom,” he says. “All these experiences prepare you to be a global citizen and to take risks.”

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HIV Vaccine, Sav001

on May 27, 2019

With the Phase I human clinical trial successfully completed, Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, a virologist at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, is upbeat about the prospects for the HIV vaccine known as SAV001.

Kang says Phase I results show SAV001 is safe in humans. “There were no adverse effects in any volunteers who received the vaccine. Better still, the vaccine displayed other promising evidence,” he says. “With the successful completion of Phase I, we also determined the immune responses in vaccinated, HIV-positive volunteers who produced antibodies against HIV. The level of antibodies against HIV was significantly elevated in these vaccinated volunteers. So we proved our vaccine works to trigger immune responses.”

Phase II, expected to start in 2015, will evaluate how uninfected, high-risk groups of people produce antibodies against HIV after vaccination. It will be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with 600 people; 300 will be vaccinated and 300 will be in the control group.

In addition to their prophylactic vaccine, SAV001, Kang and his team are also working on a therapeutic vaccine for people who are already infected. “We are currently testing this vaccine in animals,” he says.

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Self-calibrating ultrasonic monitoring system

on May 27, 2019

Oil and water truly do not mix. The fouling that can occur is a long-standing industrial problem and monitoring oil-water separation has always been difficult. But a unique product developed at Western University called the Self-Calibrating Ultrasonic Monitoring System provides a more reliable solution to keep oil and water separate.

The Self-Calibrating Ultrasonic Monitoring System uses sound waves to cut through turbidity and measure oil and grease. Dr. Anand Prakash of Western Engineering developed the monitor and is tuned in to how this works. “In an opaque system, light waves fail,” he says. “Ultrasonic devices are beyond the audio frequency and measure the change of acoustic velocity as it travels through the media.”

Patrick Therrien, a WORLDiscoveries senior business development manager, helped Dr. Prakash get the patent for their probe,
an ultrasonic pulser unit and a bundle of electronic components, including software. He says the ultrasonic system helps restaurants and factories ensure only the excess water, not the oil and grease, flows away. “There are heavy fines for overflow and the FOG (fats, oils and grease) needs to be pumped out frequently, at great cost,” says Therrien. “If you know the water level in the sludge, the system can sense when the water is out and self-calibrates. The sensor can be thrown into any grease pit to do its job.”

“There are heavy fines for overflow and the FOG (fats, oils and grease) needs to be pumped out frequently, at great cost.”

WORLDiscoveries has helped Dr. Prakash form an industry partnership with Monteco, a Toronto-based firm that brings early stage water treatment technologies to market. Prakash is also working on an application for the petrochemical industry and appreciates the support so that he gets to stay focused on his research. “WORLDiscoveries is a good way to liaise with industry,” he says. “They look after the business side of Intellectual Property, funding, plans and grants – like our NSERC and Western Innovation grants.”

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Magneto-rheological actuator

on May 27, 2019

Robots excel at repetitive, mechanical tasks, like welding and heavy lifting, which take strength and precision. The next frontier in robotics is to build more human-like robots.

A research team at Western University, led by Dr. Mehrdad R. Kermani, developed a unique actuation system for robots that uses magneto-rheological (MR) fluids — “smart fluids” — to control the transmission of torque for making the robots more compliant – almost like a muscle. “Robotic arms are now standard equipment in applications that require speed, power and accuracy and are used for jobs that are too heavy for humans,” he says. “We wanted a more human-compatible robot with speed, power and accuracy that could do these things but also learn to adapt to the workers around them – not skills that are easy to program.”

To maintain the robots’ brute force, but develop new elasticity properties, they use MR fluids. “This fluid changes its viscosity and sets as you apply the magnetic field to the fluid,” says Kermani. “It has been used passively in shock absorbers. We use it in an active way in a clutch-like mechanism that offers continuous control and engagement from one side of the clutch to the other.”

Matthew Mills, a business development manager at WORLDiscoveries, is working with Dr. Kermani and his Ph.D. student, Alex Shafer, who has built several robotic prototypes in their lab and is behind the commercialization process. WORLDiscoveries has helped with their patent filings and attracted a Chicago-based firm with deep connections to

Tier 1 suppliers to invest in their start-up company.

Mills sees immediate opportunities in logistics and transportation, where companies can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on each robot. “We’ve defined a number
of different industries where this technology can have a disruptive impact,” he says. “They have included a small sensor embedded in the clutch to measure the magnetic field, which in turn measures force and torque.” Mills says their technology can also help to make robots lightweight and reduce maintenance downtime – real muscle for industry.

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Touch point finger pad digitizer

on May 27, 2019

Arthroscopic procedures allow surgeons to perform cutting-edge operations through keyhole-sized incisions. For surgical apprentices, however, it is difficult to master the artistry of these techniques. Now, there is a way to measure how a surgeon interacts with arthroscopic tools and give surgical trainees a chance to prove competency before treating patients.

Dr. Louis Ferreira, Lawson scientist, jointly appointed in Western University’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Department of Surgery, has pioneered a device that can precisely measure finger contact and dexterity. “The whole purpose in arthroscopic surgery is to be minimally invasive,” he says. “The tools are small and the surgical motions can be subtle.”

Ferreira says virtual technologies have long been used for training, but the Touch Point Finger Digitizer can establish the expert benchmark of performance. “The virtual systems don’t measure the interface of the dexterity between the surgeon and the tools they use,” he says. “It can be difficult for a surgeon to relay what they do with their fingers, so we want to quantify that.”

Ryan Kope, an award-winning student in the Combined Medicine and Engineering Program at Western, built the prototype. The hardware and software components include wearable finger pressure sensors and an electromagnetic tracking system driven by complex algorithms.

Jonathan Deeks, a business development manager at WORLDiscoveries, helped Ferreira file a U.S. patent and secure a grant from the Western Innovation Fund to further develop the device. “We did a search for tactile pressure sensors and found it was an open field,” he says.

Ferreira says their goal is to provide future surgeons with richer performance feedback. “We also hope to help reduce the number of surgical complications that occur in the early stages of training,” he says.

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ecommTouch point finger pad digitizer


on May 27, 2019

Dear WORLDiscoveries Clients, Colleagues and Supporters,

It is a distinct pleasure to share with you our 6th edition of the WORLDiscoveries annual report, which showcases some of our brightest stars and their corresponding innovations from the past year. We call this report “Global Edge” to focus attention on the considerable success of WORLDiscoveries Asia — our subsidiary founded only three years ago in Hong Kong, which now has three offices in China. In addition, the Fraunhofer Project Centre at Western’s Advanced Manufacturing Park has brought us new opportunities in Europe and around the globe. Our ambition knows no boundaries.

As my arrival here is recent, I am indebted to Paul Paolatto, who managed both WORLDiscoveries and the Research Park this past year. Due to Paul’s leadership, I have inherited a motivated and mature organization that is knowledgeable about markets and has a vision to be one of the leading technology transfer institutions in Canada.

The 2013/2014 year was also productive for our stakeholders. Over the past 12 months, the WORLDiscoveries team earned $5.3 million in commercial income for its institutional clients, negotiated 12 new revenue-generating licenses for the portfolio, 5 of which were with international collaborators, added 13 new patents to the asset base and evaluated 71 disclosures on behalf of researchers.

Our blueprint moving forward is to leverage our creative problem solving skills. Southwestern Ontario is coming through an intense period of economic instability and we need to recognize and celebrate the diversity of innovators who will lead us back to prosperity. We plan to broaden the way that the WORLDiscoveries office is perceived and utilized, and to tap into the intellectual capital generated by the widest range of sources. Even in this challenging environment, our team is fully dedicated to embrace, nurture and transfer research products and services for the benefit of our founding organizations, faculty, staff, students and society.

We at WORLDiscoveries are honoured to represent novel, client-focused creations that are developed at Western University, Robarts and Lawson. Our commitment to the success of these advances, and the partners we serve, never wavers.

Lisa Cechetto
Executive Director

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