Brightest Minds Lighting Up Lakehead University

THUNDER BAY – Today, Lakehead University officially welcomed some of the brightest young minds in Canada to Shad Valley 2011. Every year, Shad participants are challenged by a national entrepreneurship competition that simulates a start-up venture, requiring student teams to prepare business plans, complete patent searches and design prototypes.

The competition scenario is set by Shad organizers, and encourages entrepreneurial thinking in a fun, team-based environment. The Shad Valley program believes that entrepreneurial thinking is crucial to increasing productivity in Canada and keeping the country competitive on the world stage. For the entire month of July, the Shads on campus will leverage their scientific, engineering, and technological knowledge to address this year’s theme: Breaking down barriers for Canadian children: How might we improve the quality of life for a Canadian child with a disability?

Lakehead University hosts one of the largest Shad groups among all participating institutions. Feedback from the innovative leaders of tomorrow who attend Shad Valley at Lakehead University has been outstanding. This year, Lakehead Shad alumnus Ivneet Bains (Shad Lakehead 2009) and Grant Sparling (Shad Lakehead 2010) have been recognized as two of Canada’s top 20 individuals under 20 years old.

According to Grant, Shad Valley provided the motivating environment that allowed the Shad Lakehead 2010 team to develop V720, a capsule that can deliver vaccines (such as the influenza vaccine) orally. The team successfully secured a provisional patent for their RIM/Shad Entrepreneurship Cup project, and Grant is currently working to secure a full patent.

Lakehead Shad organizer, Dr. Sultan Siddiqui, is always impressed by the new crop of Shads, “These students are incredible. They are hard-working, innovative, and they really think outside the box to come up with real-world solutions for complex problems. They take the entrepreneurial experience that Shad fosters and bring it to their local and global communities to address big issues. It’s a wonderful program.”

Not only do student participants benefit, Lakehead faculty, local businesses, and the community all get the chance to interact with these young people, “The Shad Valley program is a great fit for Lakehead University where we educate students to think critically and independently. Our outstanding faculty work together with the Shad students to come up with incredible ideas and projects that address key problems in our society,” said Dr. Moira McPherson, Acting Vice-President (Academic) and Provost.

Dr. Rui Wang, Vice-President (Research, Economic Development and Innovation) welcomed the Shads to the Lakehead Campus where he feels certain they will be inspired by workshops, field trips, and challenging projects. “Our faculty and staff are inspired in equal measure by the remarkable ideas that they hear coming out of Shad Valley. This is great way for these students to experience university life and check out the facilities that are available to them and the work that is being done at Lakehead.”

Every year, the exceptional youth who attend Shad Valley take their spirit of collaboration and innovation home to their communities to address local, regional, national, and global issues.

Lakehead President Brian Stevenson is thrilled that the University has been a proud Shad Valley participant since 1999. “I hear that Lakehead University is one of the most popular sites for Shad participants. They rave about their time here,” he said. “And after a month of living in Northern Ontario I know they’ll be eager to return to our spectacular location. Their entrepreneurial spirit is an inspiration to our campus and our local community.”