News – Innovation Centre

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Student Reflects on Meaningful Work Experience with StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre

Jordan MacDonald completed an eight month work term with the StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre. He worked with the Centre from January to August, 2017.

Working with the StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre has been a deeply gratifying experience. Being in the entrepreneurship program at StFX I have always had an interest in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that assists individuals in realizing their business potential. I have also had a keen interest in community development and the benefits created when individuals come together and work toward a common cause. Working with StFX Extension allowed me to combine these two interests and view them as they play out in real life. I was able to work alongside deeply devoted innovators and community leaders and experience these two worlds.

While my official position with the Innovation and Enterprise Centre (IEC) was “Marketing, Communications, and Events Coordinator”, I was able to express my inner creativity and propose ideas for new initiatives and partnerships. For example, I developed and delivered the Summer Launch program, an initiative that provides a grant to students in grades 7-12 to start their own business in the summer months. I was also able to contribute to the design and coordination of the Leadership Development Conference and a broader partnership between StFX University and 4-H Nova Scotia. These two activities not only brought me out into the community, they also allowed me to explore my own entrepreneurial talents and practice the skills I learned in the classroom to effect real change in my surroundings.

This position also changed my perception of the Antigonish community and the employees of StFX. By working alongside community volunteers, I feel as though I have become more connected with the people of Antigonish and I feel more imbedded in the local community. As well, by working at StFX I have gained a better understanding of how diverse the campus really is and how many things go on behind the curtains – outside of a regular students’ perception.

Through my work at StFX Extension I have helped to increase the visibility of the Department’s various areas of expertise, most especially the Innovation and Enterprise Centre. I was surprised to learn just how many opportunities and programs exist at the Centre that allow students to generate ideas for social change or business ventures, provide meaningful learning opportunities, and connect students to the broader Antigonish community.

In a previous edition of this newsletter, Sam Gan and Mitch Allen remarked on their ability to operate a business in lieu of traditional work term. The Innovation and Enterprise Centre is working to provide an “Entrepreneurial” co-op experience in the coming semesters alongside the current marketing and events coordinator position. As well, the Centre is always available to consult with any StFX student or member of the public who is interested in starting or expanding their business.

The Extension Department is a fantastic environment to work in and I encourage all students to explore the many ways to get involved in its programming. This opportunity has deepened my interest in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the social sector of the Maritimes.

Sandboxes Launch Innovation Bootcamps

The NS Sandboxes have launched two innovation bootcamps this summer to introduce post-secondary students to the innovation process and support the advancement of project ideas through an immersive, cross-disciplinary approach. The bootcamps focus on three primary practices necessary to successful innovation: Design Thinking, Lean Canvas, and Agile Project Management.

PHASE 1: Introduction to Innovation

The Introduction to Innovation Bootcamp that took place in May, 2017 at Acadia University. Three StFX students participated in this opportunity; Iker, Yash, and Laura.

Iker Zulbaran and Yash Chacoory

Mexico & Mauritius

Enrolled Diploma in Engineering

Iker and Yash are two international students studying at StFX University completing their Diploma in Engineering.

The pair of budding entrepreneurs experienced a great deal of personal growth and development as a result of their participation in Phase 1 of the Innovation BootCamp program. Iker and Yash changed their business idea several times throughout the program before deciding on a portable disinfectant device.

Following the program, Iker and Yash intend on developing their product further with the advice and support of the Innovation and Enterprise Centre.

PHASE 2: Project Incubation

The Project Incubation Bootcamp is aimed at teams of up to 3 participants who are in the process of developing projects—including teams with high-potential project ideas who have completed the Introduction to Innovation Bootcamp that took place in May. 24 teams have been accepted and the program will be delivered out of each sandbox across the province. The sandboxes are located at Acadia, CBU, Dalhousie (Computer Science, Engineering, and the Agricultural Campus), StFX, and SMU. Through the collaborative nature of the NS Sandbox program, students from MSVU, NSCAD, and NSCC are also participating in the bootcamp.

In week 1, teams worked with their sandbox managers to establish a project baseline that includes an evaluation of the strengths/weaknesses of their project and the founding team members based on their backgrounds, skills and experience; a thorough review of their existing lean canvas; and the creation/assessment of their financial models. This baseline assessment will help identify required areas of support for teams as they work with mentors/advisors throughout the program.

In weeks 2 through 12 teams will be required to dedicate one full day per week to participate, in-person, in activities out of their home sandbox. Students are then required to work a minimum of 14 additional hours throughout the week on their project idea in a flexible schedule. Participants are paid for their time, at a rate equivalent to having a co-op job for 50% of the time.

In the last week of the program, all student teams will come together for a final project presentation and demo of their project to bootcamp stakeholders, judges, and potential investors. Judges will evaluate each presentation based on specific evaluation criteria and the most promising teams/ideas will receive a financial investment from a pooled $50,000 fund.

The desired outcome of this program is to create a working MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or prototype that effectively demonstrates advancement of the project measured at the start of the bootcamp. The end result should be strong, well-balanced teams with realistic business plans and demonstrable products that are better positioned to become successful social enterprises or business start-ups founded in Nova Scotia.

Laura MacAulay

Ottawa, ON

BSc Human Kinetics ‘17

Enrolled BSc Human Nutrition

Laura will be developing a customizable retreat for corporate business owners to send their teams and individuals to ‘play’ in a meaningful way through guided expeditions and nutrition skill building as a bridge to tap into their body-mind-spirit connections. This business will offer and educational experience that builds a community of like-minded individuals to nourish them in a way that allows them to return to work and their everyday lives inspired to live with more meaning and connectivity.

Laura has always had a passion for leading others to an understanding of the importance of exercise and nutrition in order to develop a healthy and productive mind. After losing a friend to mental illness, and experiencing other instances of poor mental health, she has a heightened desire to reverse the increase prevalence of mental illness. Laura sets out to have a positive impact on those struggling to see clarity in life.

This past year Laura was enrolled in two courses; Life, Games, and Leadership and Entrepreneurial Practices in Nutrition. These courses allowed her entrepreneurial spirit to emerge while sport philosophy’s game theory solidified the groundwork to her own life philosophy. By combining this with her own life experience will provide a powerful program that will have meaningful influence on other people’s lives.

After completing Phase 1 of the Innovation Bootcamp program, Laura was accepted into Phase 2 to continue developing her business over an additional 12 weeks.  Laura very much enjoyed the two week residency at Acadia University.  This experience helped to hone in on the important stages of ideation and incubation and the ability to pivot one’s idea and address the many points of divergence and convergence.

Laura has enjoyed learning from experienced and inspirational leaders in the business world as well as the exposure to strong mentors.

Carson Murray

Pictou, NS

Enrolled Diploma in Engineering

Carson is an inventor, aspiring entrepreneur, and award winning engineering student who wants to grow his new venture idea into a full company. He is from Nova Scotia and before coming to StFX managed operations for regional and provincial sailing schools and leadership conferences. As part of the Innovation BootCamp, Carson will be further developing his company, Podeko ARS, which he began through the Wallace Family Internship in 2016.

Podeko ARS is an advanced recycling company; it takes single serving coffee pods and through a proprietary process turns them into enhanced bioreactor feedstock, 3D-printer filament, and recycled aluminum. Until now, this waste stream has not been able to be truly recycled.

The company’s few competitors either down-cycle them into non-recyclable products, or more often burns them in waste to energy plants. Keurig alone sends approximately 10,000,000,000 pods – and growing – to landfill annually. This Northern Nova Scotia venture’s objective is to be the primary diverter and recycler for this waste stream in Atlantic Canada. Eventually the firm plans on franchising the intellectual property of their process to other districts and countries as demand dictates. This technology can also use other available sources of coffee and plastic to continue producing filament and fertilizer in the event of supply instability.

StFX 4-H Society Hosts First Annual Leadership Development Conference

Conference Marks the Beginning of a New Partnership Between 4-H Nova Scotia and StFX University. Event Benefits Greatly from Extension Department Support.

The StFX 4-H Society is coming off a tremendous high after hosting its first successful “Leadership Development Conference” focusing on one of 4-H Canada’s Leadership Development Pillars. The theme of this year’s conference was “Sustainable Food and Agriculture” and was held June 27- 29, 2017. The Society worked collaboratively with 4-H Nova Scotia and St. Francis Xavier University in a new partnership to welcome 45 youth, ages 13-18, to Antigonish.

The conference was open to both 4-H’ers and non-members alike with representation from each of the four Atlantic provinces. While on campus, the students were given a real “university experience” – staying in residence, eating with friends at meal hall, and meeting with StFX students, faculty, and staff throughout.

By the numbers:

  • 45 Delegates
  • 20 University Faculty and Staff
  • 12 Student Volunteer Facilitators
  • 10 Community Members

Highlights of the conference include:

Cooking for the Future:

Upon their arrival, delegates were first tasked with making the meal for the opening banquet. Participants were introduced to several Human Nutrition and Sociology faculty and were challenged on where exactly many of the foods they have come to know and love actually come from, and the environmental and social impact some of these foods have on our society. Many student’s remarked that this was their first time being able to actively participate in preparing a meal and that they felt a sense of pride in having had a part in making the meal shared later in the evening with invited guests.

Welcome Dinner:

After a busy afternoon of mashing potatoes and preparing broth, delegates were able to finally enjoy their homemade shepherd’s pie and chicken stew. Sitting amongst the delegates were representatives of the local and provincial 4-H body, StFX 4-H Society members, StFX faculty, and many invited sponsors and engaged community partners. Dr. Kent MacDonald, president of StFX brought greetings on behalf of the university while Central Nova MP Sean Fraser encouraged delegates to showcase their leadership skills in their local communities.

Growing Local at Martha’s Garden:

Day two began with delegates boarding the StFX bus and heading to the Martha’s Garden in collaboration with the Sisters of Saint Martha and the Martha’s New Growers program. Here students were divided into small groups and rotated through various stations focused on Atlantic farming practices. These included organic vegetable growing, beef and dairy production, and beekeeping.  The Sisters also shared their stories from when the farm served to feed the initiatives of the organization, including the local hospital. Delegates were especially enthused when discussing how the chickens were prepared in earlier times and the labour intensity of the farm work conducted by the Sisters.

Hunger Banquet:

After exciting adventures at Bethany, delegates were soon reminded of their global privilege. Instead of receiving lunch upon their arrival, participants were given one of four different coloured tickets. Each ticket representing a portion of the world’s population. A lucky five were selected as being members of the upper class and sat at a table fully set and catered by a local restaurant. Another five were assembled to be a part of the middle-income group and sat at a plain table with no settings and were given a fast food meal. The remaining participants sat on the floor with half receiving rice and beans, while the other half were given only rice.  These two groups represented the global poor and the reality that most people on Earth have very limited incomes and experience a high degree of food insecurity.

Following the meal pizza was provided to the delight of many in attendance who feared they would have to go the rest of the afternoon without!

Amazing Green Race:

In place of a traditional campus tour, faculty and staff of various departments were stationed at strategically located points on campus and acted as clue holders. Delegates moved from place to place on campus, followed by the clues from the previous station. This allows participants to be introduced to the physical aspects of campus, including the sustainable initiatives being undertaken by the university in its learning spaces, and be introduced to the faculty of many unique programs within each department. One of the stops along the way included the solar panels mounted on the roof of the Bloomfield Centre allowing each person to scale the roof and see the campus from a very different point of view!

Self-Actualization and Sustainability Leadership:

After a busy day outdoors, organizers and delegates alike were please to spend the evening listening to the keynote address of Frank Gallant and Veronika Brant. The pair discussed in depth the importance of self-actualization, goal setting, and independent thinking while relating it to their own experiences and perseverance in their gardening and working lives.

Learn to Lead by Leading – McKenna Centre for Leadership:

In partnership with the McKenna Centre for Leadership, members of the StFX 4-H Society organized activities and facilitated discussions that helped conference delegates put together the pieces gathered over the previous two days and create a plan for how they will improve and exercise their own leadership in their home communities. These activities began with the individual and outlined each person’s assets and strengths. Each individual was then asked to set goals for themselves aligning with their club, their community, and their country – a key element of the 4-H program. Participants were then moved into groups based on their home location and asked to create regional goals that they could fulfill together when they return home. These “regional declarations” were then collected and will be sent to each member later in the summer to remind them of their commitment to take the conference home.

Initial feedback from conference delegates, organizers, and stakeholders has been extremely positive with many indicating an interest of returning in following years to StFX for the Leadership Development Conference.

A 2018 conference is already in the works and will focus on Community Engagement and Communication. This theme comes at an important time for StFX as 2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Antigonish Movement and the 90th anniversary of the Extension Department. Such an event will fit nicely with broader university-wide celebrations.

The StFX 4-H Society looks forward to offering additional leadership opportunities to youth throughout Atlantic Canada and beyond through the continuous develop and support of the Leadership Development Conference. The Society also acknowledges the tremendous support of faculty advisor and Conference Co-Chair Dr. Norine Verberg, Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture staff, Antigonish Leader’s Council, 4-H Nova Scotia, StFX University, and the many donors who made this event possible. The efforts of these groups have been enjoyed by many from across the Atlantic region.

What People are Saying:

Helping the world become more sustainable involves leadership, taking initiative, committing to making a change, and spreading this knowledge and ambition.

-Conference Delegate

The activities we did over the course of the last few days were where leadership became a large role… these activities made me realize that without someone having good leadership qualities simple tasks can become harder to overcome.

-Conference Delegate

Food security is an issue that I believe is most important to focus on. After waiting for lunch, then getting the group on the floor for the hunger banquet, I realize how affected people are by food security.

-Conference Delegate

When Veronika (Self-Actualization and Sustainability Leadership) was talking about her farm and her garden it made me want to be a farmer/gardener even more.

-Conference Delegate

The planning process has been highly rewarding, being able to engage with faculty members outside the classroom has been a wonderful experience and has given me a greater appreciation for the research and work that is conducted at StFX University.

– Jordan MacDonald, Conference Co-Chair

The Leadership Development Conference enabled me to grow as an individual and to improve my own leadership skills. The structure and theme of the conference provided a strong framework for engaging with issues surrounding sustainability, and made me acknowledge and work on various issues which I may have otherwise not understood.

-Will Fraser, Conference Volunteer

The university administration has been an integral partner and taken on an ownership role in conjunction with the 4-H society and 4-H Nova Scotia. Their support has been invaluable as they have provided lots of in-kind services from assistance with various events to marketing to venues. We have also received tremendous support from faculty and staff from a variety of departments including nutrition, sociology and business. It’s amazing to see the StFX community come together to ensure the success of this conference and help our delegates go home with a new outlook on sustainable agriculture and food security.

-Jane Stevenson, President StFX 4-H Society


Summer Launch Participants Attend Antigonish Farmers’ Market

Summer Launch Participants Attend Antigonish Farmers’ Market

Participants to Continue Attending Market Throughout the Summer Months

Several Summer Launch participants have expressed interested in selling their products at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market at the Summer Launch table. Three of these participants, representing Fizz Bath Products and NAS Originals, attended the market on June 24 with other vendors joining in throughout the summer until August 26.

Katie MacNeil and Brooke MacDonald are co-owners of Fizz Bath Products, specializing in homemade bath bombs and body lotions.  Visit them online at 

Nathaniel Smith, proprietor of NAS Originals, is a firm proponent of “finding the new in the old”. Nathaniel makes various handcrafts from recycled barn boards and railway hooks that would otherwise go to waste. To learn more about NAS Originals, and to get in touch, email

Be sure to stop by the Summer Launch table while visiting the Farmers’ Market and support the hard work of these budding entrepreneurs!

Katie MacNeil & Brooke MacDonald, “Fizz Bath Products” and Nathaniel Smith, “NAS Originals”

Summer Launch is delivered by the StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre, an initiative of the StFX Extension Department. For more information on Summer Launch visit