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Professor Cynthia Goh named academic director of BBCIE

Goh brings “entrepreneurship experience and passion for the translation of scientific discovery to technologies that benefit society,” Scott Mabury says

Cynthia GohProfessor M. Cynthia Goh, scientist, educator and serial entrepreneur, has been selected as the inaugural academic director for the University of Toronto’s Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (BBCIE).

“The world has changed, and while we provide an excellent fundamental education, our students could use more,” said Goh.“U of T needs to be the leader in training and inspiring our world-class students to use their talents to reach out and create an impact.

“Entrepreneurial skills are not just for building a company. In creating this new position, the university recognizes that we want to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and a culture of innovation in our students because these are crucial elements for their future.”

A physical chemist with appointments in the departments of chemistry, materials science and engineering, the Institute of Medical Science and the Munk School of Global Affairs, Goh is the founding director of the Impact Centre, a U of T campus-linked accelerator (CLA) which aims to bring science to society. She has published more than 80 scientific papers and holds more than 20 patents.

With her graduate students, Goh has started seven science-based companies which employ dozens of people in a variety of industries from medical diagnostics and agriculture to nanomaterials and science education. As director of the Impact Centre, she has nurtured more than 100 technology startup companies and advised hundreds of entrepreneurs over the past five years on how to turn the results of research into real products and processes.

Professor Scott Mabury, operations vice-president, said Goh is recognized for both her scholarship and entrepreneurial activities.

“Her entrepreneurship experience and passion for the translation of scientific discovery to technologies that benefit society make her well-equipped to enhance the entrepreneurial activity taking place at the university.”

The originator of Entrepreneurship 101, the flagship training program at MaRS which was first offered in the chemistry department and is accessed by about 20,000 annually, Goh has more than 15 years of experience in introducing entrepreneurial skills to students. Her activities within universities in Canada and abroad have inspired tens of thousands of students in science and innovation.

The BBCIE is the central office for student-related entrepreneurial activity across the three campuses of the university. The appointment of an academic director recognizes the important role that innovation and entrepreneurship will continue to play within the academic mandate of the university.

U of T houses nine CLAs coordinated under the BBCIE umbrella. Each of the CLAs has been established to fill demand from the university’s diverse disciplines and three campuses. In operation for more than three years, the BBCIE takes the administrative lead on all things entrepreneurship at U of T and now will be complemented by Goh as the academic link for students.

“The CLAs are the beginning,” Goh said, “but we need to move even further  to reach out to all students, as well as beyond STEM disciplines to build connections and generate new ways of thinking.”

In this new position, Goh said, her goal to reach as many students as possible.

“The appointment of an academic director is part of the university’s commitment to fostering tomorrow’s entrepreneurs,” said Vivek Goel, vice-president of research and innovation. “Considerable work has been done building the entrepreneurial ecosystem so far and this next step will help ensure U of T students are receiving the best experience possible to prepare themselves for the future.”

As academic director, Goh will lead efforts to create opportunities for collaboration on initiatives across the CLAs and the university as a whole. She will spearhead initiatives that will continue to position the university as one of the leading centres for innovation and entrepreneurship.