Women in Entrepreneurship Week Panel Discussion

In support of Women in Entrepreneurship Week (Oct 13-20), we are inviting everyone to an informative panel discussion—highlighting three prominent local female innovators. Following the facilitated discussion, there will be a short and fun trivia challenge, then we will open up the session to the audience for Q&A.

In support of Women in Entrepreneurship Week (Oct 13-20), we are inviting everyone to an informative panel discussion—highlighting three prominent local female innovators. Following the facilitated discussion, there will be a short and fun trivia challenge, then we will open up the session to the audience for Q&A.

Featured Panelists

Melanie Little

Melanie Little started her career as an elementary school teacher, before staying at home to raise and then home educate her two kids -during which time she pursued educational research and worked on writing a (still unfinished) book on how humans learn best. She is an active  Non-profit board member with the Nova Scotia Home Education Association which works to support home ed families in the province. She has worked for many years, with her cofounder, on various iterations of a business ideas that would leverage online services to empower users, rather than exploit them – culminating in their most recent start up, vlife: a support local online marketplace.

Kate Pepler

Kate Pepler grew up on Toronto Island and came to Dalhousie in 2011. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environment Sustainability and Society, Environmental Science and a minor in Marine Biology.  After graduating, she was overcome with a sense of doom. So she took action and created Our Positive Planet – a platform to share environmental success stories, and tips on living a zero waste lifestyle.There are now over 50 writers from around the world contributing to the website. This led her to stumble upon the Zerowaste movement and from there she was inspired to open up The Tare Shop. A package-free coffee shop, bulk store, and community hub.

Kate-Lynn MacPhail

Kate-Lynn MacPhail is a developer specializing in backend and data technologies. She graduated from Acadia University in 2014 and has been working mostly with local start-ups ever since building data platforms and APIs. She loves sharing her passion for Data Science and Analytics, and getting others involved in this exciting field!


Please click the button below to register for this event


Introduction to the Sandbox Discover Program and the Design Thinking Mindset

This workshop will introduce the new Sandbox Discover program to students—including an introduction to the design thinking mindset and how it links to innovation.

We’ll also have a lot of fun guiding you through a mini design challenge as a one-hour “crash course” on design thinking.

Buckle up… it’s going to be a fast-paced ride!

This workshop will introduce the new Sandbox Discover program to students—including an introduction to the design thinking mindset and how it links to innovation.

We’ll also have a lot of fun guiding you through a mini design challenge as a one-hour “crash course” on design thinking.

Buckle up… it’s going to be a fast-paced ride!

About the Sandbox Discover Program

The Sandbox Discover program is a free, extra-curricular program open to all students in any post-secondary degree/diploma program who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means insight was gained.
The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!

NS Sandboxes Bootcamp Fosters Creativity, Innovation for Entrepreneurs

Story by: Allison Kincade, Dalhousie University, Faculty of Computer Science

Not your average summer camp

For the second year in a row, ShiftKey Labs—the Dal-hosted innovation sandbox in the Goldberg Computer Science Building—co-designed and delivered a province-wide bootcamp for budding entrepreneurs, the Creativity and Innovation Bootcamp.

Twelve Dalhousie students worked alongside forty-six others hailing from 7 universities and 6 other sandboxes, to tackle one central issue facing Nova Scotian communities today: How might people who live in Nova Scotia reduce the amount of plastic and paper that ends up in the landfill?

Premier Stephen McNeil stopped by to see the innovation in action, giving a few words of support and encouragement for all involved.

Collaboration is key

The aim of the bootcamp was to help students discover more about their own ability to create unique and impactful responses to real-world challenges, with design-thinking – or human-centered design – at its core.

Last year, teams competed for finalist positions over the course of three months. This year, the human-centered approach saw students also divided into smaller groups, but with the intent of splitting up across the multidisciplinary fields of study with the final objective of advancing stronger student connections within the cohort, and showcasing the real value that comes from collaborating within a diverse group of individuals.

“After last year’s Bootcamp, we felt that the best way to harness the collaborative potential of the entire cohort would be to remove the competitive project ‘pitch’ where the ‘best’ team would win the prize money,” says Grant Wells, manager of ShiftKey Labs.

“I feel that the solutions generated were of a much higher quality, as teams maximized their learning without the barriers to collaboration.”

Master of Applied Computer Science Student and ShiftKey Labs student participant, Shilpa Singh, was pleasantly surprised by the diverse culture backgrounds and fields of study that her peers brought to the bootcamp. “It was great exposure for me; I got a chance to really expand my network,” she says.

Design-thinking and problem solving

The issue at hand was an easy one to get students to buy into. The topic of recycling and reducing contamination of items to be recycled is constantly trending across disciplines – and has an impact on every citizen.

To help tackle the problem at hand, students spent their two weeks immersed in interactive workshops and learning the process, alongside time for independent experimentation. Students were equipped with a handful of approaches to problem solving and practiced new tools for testing and solving ideas.

When asked to reflect on their experience, most students highlight the lessons they learned in brainstorming, noting that their perception on how to approach it has been flipped on its head.

“This was a major life lesson for me on a new way of brainstorming,” Singh says. “Just by using simple techniques like writing your ideas on sticky notes, drawing stick figures to explain the solution, and following the whole procedure of human design thinking, I learned a completely new way of looking at a problem and finding the solution from people’s perspective.”

Students were also encouraged to actually get outside to observe people’s behaviours and talk to them about what they were thinking. “The whole program was conducted in a way where we came up with a solution to a problem, without even realizing we were working on it the whole time!” Singh adds. “This was really a once in a lifetime experience for me.”

Students went from having little to no understanding of what design-thinking even meant to having enough confidence to work individually, in small groups, and a mash-up of groups – to develop ideas that led to solution-driven early prototypes that could impact our society.

“Next year, we will continue to evolve the program and improve upon its success,” says Wells. “I would like even more Dal students to experience this amazing opportunity, take advantage of the variety of skills development programs offered at ShiftKey Labs, and the network of provincial sandboxes.”

Asked what he feels the main value in activities like this is, Wells remarks, “Ultimately, it can be life changing for a student to join our open and welcome community. No matter what, it will further enhance their overall academic experience here at Dalhousie.”

Innovating with the IWK

UPDATE: Due to low registration numbers, tonight’s event has been cancelled. Please check our calendar for other activities that might be of interest.

Do you want to help break healthcare?

The IWK Health Centre is in the midst of rolling out a new innovation strategy, one that works best by engaging with our community and academic partners.  Innovation Services at the IWK has legal, business and medical expertise, and can provide advice, mentorship, and resources for those interested in entrepreneurial health care innovation aimed at women’s and children’s care.

Dr. Brett Taylor, Lead Physician Information Management

Dr. Brett Taylor is the medical consultant for innovation at the IWK, and will present a brief (20 min) power point presentation on the opportunities and resources available to under- and post-graduate programmers, computer scientists and engineers.  Funding opportunities and protection of developer IP will be discussed.  A question and answer session will follow.

Come be disruptive with us 😊


CS Students Develop Winning Solution to Support Dementia Sufferers

by Rebecca Rawcliffe

A team of students from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science took home $7,500 from the Nova Scotia Sandboxes “Introduction to Innovation” Bootcamp to develop their ideas for a tech-based solution to support individuals suffering from dementia.

Master of Applied Computer Science students Aishwarya Ravichandran and Harish Gopinath’s team MyMem, beat 19 other teams from Dalhousie, Acadia, NSCC, St. Mary’s and Mount Saint Vincent to claim first place in the intensive four-week long bootcamp.

“We recognized that dementia and associated memory loss can cause major problems for those living with the condition, including loss of independence and peace of mind,” says Aishwarya. “We wanted to develop a solution for dementia sufferers and their families to makes things easier for them.”

Through AI based personalized voice command, the team identified a way to use technology to help people living with dementia recall information quickly and independently.

“We are also exploring the use of cognitive brain games, featuring a potential sufferer’s memories, to identify the different stages of dementia for family and caregivers,” adds Aishwarya. “We believe this could have a huge impact on the way disorders such as dementia are approached.”

MyMem were also first place winners at Hacking Health Halifax in March 2017.

Hands-on introduction to innovation

The Introduction to Innovation Bootcamp, aimed at post-secondary students and new graduates, was developed by sandboxes from across the province, including ShiftKey Labs based out of the Faculty of Computer Science, to introduce new entrepreneurs to start-up methodologies and design thinking, providing them with the support and advice to develop their innovative ideas.

Four weeks of hard work, including a 2-week residency at Acadia, culminated in final pitches in front of a panel of expert judges and potential investors at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science on May 25, with $15,000 dollars up for grabs for the top three placing teams.

“From supporting the local beer and wine industry to youth retention in Nova Scotia, we saw an impressive range of ideas come out of the bootcamp from the next generation of entrepreneurs,” says Grant Wells, manager of ShiftKey Labs. “Initiatives such as this prove how much emerging start-up talent there is in the Province, and through Nova Scotia Sandboxes we are dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.

“MyMem’s pitch stood out for the judges as it has real potential to be developed as a product which could change the way in which health professionals approach dementia and related disorders.”

The top three placing teams included third-place Kinematic World — also from the Faculty of Computer Science — which took home $3,750 to develop their mobile fitness game to encourage increased physical activity amongst gamers.

All three now go forward to a second Project Incubation Bootcamp. This advanced 12-week session will support teams with existing projects to take their ideas to the next level, with a total of $50,000 in prize money available to winning teams.

Hacking Health Halifax: Design Thinking Café

After the success of our first café, we’re extra excited to announce Hacking Health Halifax’s second Café & Design Thinking Workshop! This time, we’re ready to take a hands-on approach.

During a facilitated session, we’ll challenge you to identify key healthcare challenges in multi-disciplinary groups. Together, we’ll learn a repeatable, design thinking process that can be used leading up to and during the hackathon weekend. As always, this session is admission-free. Of course, we’ll save time at the start and finish of the design thinking session to mix, mingle and meet new people!

We’ll be hosting cafes and workshops leading up to a weekend hackathon in November 2016! Visit Hacking Health Halifax for more details.

Who should attend?  Anyone is welcome, so long as you have a passion for innovation and a willingness to share your expertise.

Special thanks to Innovacorp for sponsoring this event!

Hackers & Makers

Work on meaningful problems. Help improve healthcare. Get connected, and practice your skills.

Health Professionals & Patients


Collaborate with tech experts to solve problems in healthcare. Let your ideas inspire practical solutions.

Entrepreneurs & Other Stakeholders


Support and participate in grass-roots, collaborative problem-solving to improve the healthcare system.

Let’s Talk Tech!

Every Monday, Interdisciplinary PhD student Colin Conrad (and guests) will be hosting “Let’s Talk Tech!” open to everyone with an interest in Computer Science and working with/hiring developers. Free coffee and guest wifi will be provided.


Coffee and Code with Colin Conrad

Every Monday, Interdisciplinary PhD student Colin Conrad will be hosting a “coffee and code” session where students interested in topics focused on Computer Science can take part in informal discussions about coding, programming languages/frameworks, technology-related start-up ideas or projects, and more. Free coffee and guest wifi will be provided.


Design Thinking: A Framework for Innovation

On November 4, ShiftKey Labs members took part in Design Thinking event. Facilitated by Jenny Baechler, participants learned about the tools and techniques of design thinking as an approach to innovation. We explored ideas from some of the leaders in design thinking including Tim Brown, David Kelly and Roger Martin. These leaders have made design thinking an important piece of the start-up ecosystem.  Topics included building a culture of innovation and creative problem solving. These topics provide teams with resources to tackle early-stage ideation – strategies for brainstorming, framing opportunities and creating human-centred solutions that have an impact. Students loved taking part in this hands-on, high-energy workshop!

Jenny Baechler

Facilitator Jenny Baechler is the Associate Director of the Corporate Residency MBA program and a Lecturer for the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University. She holds an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the European University Centre for Peace Studies and is a PhD Candidate in Dalhousie’s Interdisciplinary PhD program. Her research integrates the fields of public administration, peace/conflict studies, international development studies and complexity theory and explores opportunities for and barriers to cross-boundary collaboration (whole-of-government) within the context of international stabilization and peacebuilding efforts.

ShiftKey Labs would like to say a huge thanks to Ms. Baechler for facilitating the workshop and for all students who participated!

Design Thinking Workshop

Web Worker Tutorial

It is so difficult to cope up with the fast-paced development in web technologies. A big chunk of server side programming is taken over by new technologies like AngularJS, Dojo, JQuery and more generally JavaScript. With the advancement of technology, there are also rising concerns on scalability, security, maintenance, code readability, privacy, performance, efficiency and many more. Similarly, the same concerns arise when we talk about Big Data and Cloud support to manage enterprise data through REST services.

The intention to start this group is to share ideas and experience around these emerging technologies and look for common issues that we face in day to day work. Also, to group together to work on a common idea or a problem that has long lived in industry and has no solution provided up till now. We look forward to meeting technology experts on this domain to get together and share their experiences and to welcome newcomers who want to learn new technology and get hands-on experience. We also would get a chance to meet industry experts and entrepreneurs who have founded their own company in Halifax and want to share their experiences. This is also a platform to present an innovative idea of your own and gather feedback from co-workers working in the same platform for many years. So, please don’t hesitate to join us in our meetup.

This Meetup

In our next meetup we would be going through Web Worker Tutorial presented by Jacky and the group will listen to new ideas for a fun project to do together.

We would also run through some general examples in AngularJS and other frameworks on how to run this properly. For a detailed description, please visit our meetup page:

Web Worker Tutorial and AngularJS

Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015, 6:30 PM

ShiftKey Labs Dalhousie CS Building
6050 University Avenue Halifax, NS

13 tech-innovators Went

In our next meetup we would be going through Web Worker Tutorial presented by Jacky and the group will listen to new ideas for a fun project to do together.We are invited by ShiftKey Labs in Dalhousie Computer Science building to meet new people “tech-innovators” who might have great ideas but don’t have enough resources to work on it.Our group w…

Check out this Meetup →

Please note that this tutorial is recommended for those with previous coding experience in HTML, CSS, JavaScript. Familiarity with JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS would also be of benefit. If you have questions about this tutorial, please contact the event organizer, Suhaib Qaiser via the contact information listed in the “Organizer” section below.

To register, please use the form below.

Registration Form

[ninja_forms id=84]