Natasha D’Souza and James Makienko, both graduate students in the Technology Innovation Management program, have been selected as two of five interns by the Nicol Entrepreneurial Institute at Carleton University.

All the interns will receive between $7,000 to $7,500, office space at the Invest Ottawa startup incubation centre at 80 Aberdeen, and mentors from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, Invest Ottawa, National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, and the Carleton Entrepreneurs Program.

“The Nicol interns personify the talent, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of Carleton’s extraordinary students,” said Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. “Mentored by our faculty, they have developed winning strategies for success, not only on campus but in business.”

D’Souza is developing a virtual therapy system for children with special needs. “Research shows that children with special needs such as Autism, Aspergers and ADHD have difficulty interpreting facial and tonal emotions, thus reacting differently to social situations,” points out D’Souza. “They may be aggressive, argumentative, susceptible to meltdowns, which can have a huge impact in the classroom or at home. My system will not only help these children but make the healthcare and educational system more efficient by changing the ratio of one child to one therapist to that of many to one. The therapeutic application will run on a tablet computer and will be supported by a web-based application.”

Makienko’s business, HiveDirect, will deliver a collaborative video captioning service to large scale producers of video content such as universities that broadcast lectures remotely to students. His system will be scalable which means it can change its size pretty quickly. Makienko explains: “One day you can have 24 minutes worth of videos; the next day another 374 minutes of videos gets uploaded and it still works.” He had been working on a joint project with the Paul Menton Centre for Students With Disabilities at Carleton University to build a prototype of a captioning system.

Both students are planning on graduating this June at Carleton’s Spring Convocation ceremony.

“What distinguishes Carleton University from other Canadian universities is that we support students from all academic disciplines to launch and grow entrepreneurial companies” said Dr. Tony Bailetti, director of the institute. “We have created a machine that produces student entrepreneurs who then create wealth for our region.”

The names of the other interns and their company tag lines are:

  • Aula Beseiso (Fourth-year Bachelor of Arts, Applied Economics student), Healthy food products and labelling
  • Boris Fisman (First-year Bachelor of Arts, Economics student), Mobile communications between nightlife establishment
  • Nick May (First-year Bachelor of Science, Chemistry student) Water-activated shaving product

The Nicol Entrepreneurial Institute at Carleton University will offer $140,000 in funding each year to support up to 18 student entrepreneurs. The funds will be generated by interest on a $3.5-million endowment fund contributed by the Wes and Mary Nicol Foundation and Carleton University. Income generated by the endowment will support four to six Carleton students each academic term (12 to 18 students a year).

Established last August, the Nicol Entrepreneurial Institute oversees paid internships that provide students with the skills and experience they need to launch and grow their own companies. Carleton undergraduate and graduate students from all faculties are able to apply for these internships. They will promote and instill the highest spirit of entrepreneurialism at the university.

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