BEST Bridge to Startup (BB2S), the four-month Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) summer entrepreneurship experience that launched in the summer of 2023, has empowered students from York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering to build United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-friendly startups based around artificial intelligence (AI), accessibility, energy consumption and more.
BB2S was created to provide a crucial stepping stone for students transitioning from university to the professional world, imparting critical skills that go beyond the classroom, with undergraduate students able to turn their final-year capstone projects into ventures, or graduate students turning their research into a business.
“Through our BB2S program, we aim to guide aspiring entrepreneurs on their path to self-discovery,” said Maedeh Sedaghat, BEST program manager. “The program offers a transformative experience that allows students to embrace a journey of curiosity and boundless learning, where success is the fruit of collective wisdom. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with this journey helps the students become more resilient, and they emerge with a personal and professionally rewarding entrepreneurial mindset that will enable them to make a positive impact in all their future endeavours.”
Aiming to bridge the gap between academic and practical application by offering participants hands-on practice instrumental to shaping future tech leaders, students were immersed in a professional setting where they could gain insights into the intricate workings of startup ecosystems, from ideation to market entry. Furthermore, as part of the program, each team worked with a Schulich School of Business master of business administration intern who helped the team develop business strategy, go-to-market strategies, product roadmaps and competitive reports.
The resulting inaugural projects are:
Created by computer science students Yasser Elsaid and Pegah Fallah, Chatbase is an AI chatbot builder that trains ChatGPT on an individual’s data and lets them add a chat widget to their website.
Created by mechanical engineering students Mhd Youssef Demashkieh and Jad Zeitoun, Reefers is an energy recovery system that uses the exhaust gases to create electricity to power the refrigeration system of refrigerated truck trailers.
Created by computer science alum Abbas Qassim and computer science student Solomon Ukwosah, Handifuel automates the fuelling process by building a robotic arm that will eliminate the need of mobility-challenged individuals to manually complete the process.
Created by mechanical engineering alum Rizwan Bhatti, electrical engineering student Christopher Korfmann and software engineering student Mohammed Fulwala, PoweRanger is an autonomous, remote power line inspection robot that helps minimize production downtime and prevent unexpected power outages by quickly identifying faults, pinpointing their locations and understanding their causes.
Created by mechanical engineering students Mohammad Shamail, Muhammad Ali Toor and Eric Wong, MechTronX is a tech company that specializes in providing cost-effective, customized solutions that cater to the unique technical requirements of early-stage companies.
“BEST Bridge to Startup is a unique entrepreneurial opportunity that allows graduating students to experience the life of an entrepreneur by working exclusively on their startup for four months,” said Professor Andrew Maxwell, Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship. “Our hope is that many of them turn their capstone projects into viable businesses supported by BESTLab.”