Two York faculty members receive Minister’s Award of Excellence

Colored confetti flying on blue background

Professors Pina D’Agostino and Andrew Maxwell have each been recognized with the government of Ontario’s 2022-23 Minister’s Award of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is given to people within the province’s post-secondary institutions and career colleges who demonstrate dedication and achievement in their respective fields.

Recipients of the Minister’s Award of Excellence are selected based on their accomplishments in teaching excellence, research innovation, student engagement and community partnerships. The award aims to not only recognize individual excellence, but how winners have made an impact in shaping the future of Ontario’s education sector.

Giuseppina (Pina) D'Agostino
Pina D’Agostino

This year, the minister received over 480 nominations. In their award category – Innovation and Entrepreneurship – D’Agostino and Maxwell represented two of the three total winners, demonstrating their, and York’s, leadership in the field.

This year, D’Agostino was recognized – as noted by the award committee – for her “track record of founding leading-edge initiatives … that [have] supported countless startups across the province.” Notable examples are D’Agostino’s founding and directing of the IP Innovation Clinic and the Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program, as well as being the founding director of IP Osgoode. Through these initiatives, she has helped to provide vital support to hundreds of innovators and startups in Ontario and across Canada, helping advance knowledge and the application of intellectual property (IP) and offsetting over $2 million via pro bono assistance while helping to train the next generation of IP practitioners.

D’Agostino is also the inaugural co-director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Society and played a critical role in securing York University’s historic $318-million Canada First Research Excellence Fund award for the Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy and Just Society project, where she served as its co-principal investigator and was named its inaugural vice-director. As of March 1, she has also been promoted to director of Connected Minds.

The Minister’s Awards of Excellence additionally recognized Maxwell – a Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship – for his dedication to transforming student educational experiences and driving economic development through pioneering initiatives.

Andrew Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell

Those initiatives have included the establishment of the living lab, which fosters collaboration between academia and industry through strategic partnerships. Among collaborations overseen by Maxwell is the prototyping, testing and deployment of the SARIT micro-mobility electric vehicle on campus. The SARIT vehicles are a flagship project for the new Manufacturing, Technology & Entrepreneurship Centre, which has provided students with invaluable opportunities to engage directly with industry leaders and work on cutting-edge technologies poised to impact mobility and the growing electric vehicle industry. Maxwell has also helped secure multidisciplinary research funding from York and the Ontario Research Fund to explore the social impact of the SARIT and enhance its safety and ride experience.

As the director of the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) Lab at Lassonde, he has also been instrumental in supporting entrepreneurial ventures, enhancing university research commercialization and revolutionizing educational paradigms.

As a professor, Maxwell was also recognized for his efforts to link sustainability, experiential learning and community with innovative pedagogical methods – including weekend hackathons, multidisciplinary entrepreneurship certificates and intense, three-week, experiential international visits.

Further information about the Minister’s Awards of Excellence can be found on the Government of Ontario website.