Esposito Family Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

BC Regional Innovation Chair

The BC Regional Innovation Chair in Canada-India Partnership Development is a research chair focused on developing research partnerships with leading academic and research institutions in India. This Chair has been established with the funding and support of the Fraser Valley community and the BC Government through the Leading Edge Endowment Fund. The funding is gratefully acknowledged.

The current BC Regional Innovation Chair, Dr. Jon Thomas, is working on strengthening the innovation ecosystem in the Fraser Valley through teaching, research and mentoring for students and entrepreneurs in the Fraser Valley. Dr. Thomas has studied and mentored scientists and engineers commercializing their inventions for social impact for almost two decades. He holds a Ph.D. in Technology Management & Strategy from IIT Delhi and has been a Mitacs Elevate postdoctoral fellow examining innovation in the nano-biotechnology industry.

His interdisciplinary research on various aspects of innovation, entrepreneurship, and science commercialization, has been published in Nature Nanotechnology, Technovation, Journal of Engineering & Technology Management, Journal of Cleaner Production, Scientometrics, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, and World Patent Information. He is regularly invited to speak on innovation and entrepreneurship topics and is keenly interested in the pre-formation and early post-formation stages of venture formation, particularly in university settings.  

Since joining UFV in 2017, Dr. Thomas has mentored many student projects, published multiple peer-reviewed research papers, has developed innovation and entrepreneurship courses, and delivered many invited talks and public lectures across the Fraser Valley and beyond. For selected research please see below.

I. Student research

  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship projects through BUS492: Directed Studies in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
  • Maegan McKay (2019): Canadian University Intellectual Property Policies
  • Himani Thapa (2019): Student Entrepreneurship supports in Canadian Universities
  • Rakshita Guleria (2019): Automation in the berry industry in Canada
  • Vardan Bhatia (2019): A case-study of the Abbotsford Aerospace cluster
  • Simarpreet (2019): Indigenous entrepreneurship in Canada
  • Gurkaran Sahota (2019): Social entrepreneurship in Canada
  • Amit Bansal (2019): Market Entry into the Indian Market
  • Mehrab Nagpal (2019): Literature Review on Family-owned businesses in Canada and India
  • Karenveer Toor (2020): Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Jasleen Sandhu (2020): Amazon Inc. – Core competencies and their integration
  • Kashish Ahuja (2020): Responding to disruption: The failure of Blockbuster
  • My student research assistant, Jordan Evans, presented his research (co-authored with me) at an international conference in Ottawa (ISPIM 2019 April). He was the only undergraduate student presenter while other presenters were professors and graduate students from across Europe and North America. I also helped him secure travel funding from UFV for this conference.

II. Recent peer-reviewed academic journal publications

  • Thomas, V. J., Bliemel, M., Shippam, C., & Maine, E. (2020). Endowing University Spin-offs Pre-formation: Entrepreneurial Capabilities for Scientist-entrepreneurs. Technovation 96–97, August–September 2020, 102153.
  • Thomas, V. J., & Maine, E. (2019). Market entry strategies for electric vehicle start-ups in the automotive industry – Lessons from Tesla Motors. Journal of Cleaner Production, 235, 653–663.
  • Thomas, V. J., & Maine, E. (2019). Impact of Regional Systems of Innovation on the Formation of University Spin-offs by Biomedical Star Scientists. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 37(2), 271–287.

The Journal of Cleaner Production and Technovation are “A” ranked technology and innovation journals published by Elsevier.

III. Recent peer-reviewed international academic conference presentations

Thomas, V. J., Bliemel, M., Shippam, C., & Maine, E. (2019, September). Endowing University Spin-offs Pre-formation: Entrepreneurial Capabilities for Scientist-entrepreneurs. Paper presented at the Technology Transfer Society Annual Conference, Toronto, ON.

  • Jon Thomas, BC Regional Innovation Chair, UFV, led an international, interdisciplinary team of researchers from Simon Fraser University and the University of Technology Sydney on a project to investigate how breakthrough scientific inventions from universities can be translated into products and services with significant social impacts through the formation of university spin-offs. Studying the 40-year career of a star scientist entrepreneur who has co-founded over 30 university spin-offs, this team identified four key pre-formation entrepreneurial capabilities that can be developed by scientist entrepreneurs at universities and research institutions across the world.
  • Earlier versions of this research have been presented at IIT Delhi and IIT Kharagpur. It was most recently presented at the University of Toronto in Fall 2019, and was accepted for presentation at MIT in June 2020 (prior to the restrictions due to COVID-19). This study has now been published in Technovation in May 2020. An earlier paper from this overall project had focused on raising financing for science-based university spin-offs and was published in Nature Nanotechnology in 2017.

IV. Invited presentations, facilitation, & guest lectures

Organization

Role

Topic

Dates

Fraser Valley Tech Summit

Panelist

Innovation Through Education

Oct. 2020

UFV Agriculture (Online)

Lecturer

For agriculture students on Entrepreneurship

Mar. 2020

UFV Agriculture, Chilliwack, BC

Guest

Student business plan presentations

Nov. 2019

UFV Faculty of Science, Abbotsford, BC

Presenter

Science-Based University Spin-Off Emergence

Nov. 2019

UFV Research Advisory Council, Abbotsford, BC

Presenter

Delivered a presentation at a panel discussion on basic and applied research, along with Dr. Olav Lian

Oct. 2019

UFV, Abbotsford, BC

Panelist

Bringing Fraser Valley to the World: Panel for graduate students from Lucerne, Switzerland; in recognition of session's quality, now featured on the website of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Oct. 2019

UFV, Abbotsford, BC

Facilitator

Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Paul Esposito

May 2019

Grounded Food Symposium organized by the Valley Food and Farm Collective at UFV, Abbotsford, BC

Presenter

Innovation and Technology in the Food Sector

April 2019

Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT Kharagpur, India

Presenter

University Entrepreneurship: Perspectives on Start-ups and VCs

Feb. 2019

UFV Research Advisory Council, Abbotsford, BC

Presenter

Perspectives on Technology Transfer: Specific emphasis on the relationship of universities with industry

Jan. 2019

UFV Department of Chemistry, Abbotsford, BC

Presenter

Matching Technologies to Markets: The Case of a Scientist-Entrepreneur

Jan. 2019

UFV Friesen House, Abbotsford, BC

Presenter

Building an Innovation Ecosystem: Highlighted recent advances in technological innovation across multiple industries; compared Canada’s innovation trajectory with that of select nations; and focused on the central role that universities play in the development of an innovation ecosystem

Jan. 2019

UFV, Abbotsford, BC

Public lecturer

Building an Innovation Ecosystem (Same description as row above)

Nov. 2018

UFV School of Business and University of Applied Sciences and Arts Lucerne Partnership, Vancouver, BC

Presenter

Canada-India Business Trends

Oct. 2018

Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT Kharagpur, India

Presenter

Matching Technologies to Markets: The Case of a Scientist-Entrepreneur

Aug. 2018

Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi, India

Presenter

Endowing University Spin-Offs Pre-Formation: Entrepreneurial Capabilities for Scientist-Entrepreneurs

Aug. 2018

Minister Bruce Ralston – MLA for Surrey-Whalley, BC

Presenter

Innovation in the Fraser Valley: Shared preliminary research results along with undergraduate research assistant, Jordan Evans

Jul. 2018

V. Selected current Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) projects

  • Innovation in the Fraser Valley: This project has resulted in the collection of several decades of patent data on inventors from the Fraser Valley. Jordan Evans, the student research assistant, working on this project has presented the initial results of this research at an international conference in Ottawa in 2019. Additional work is ongoing.
  • Examining smart cities – The Case of Abbotsford: Olena Bogdanov is examining how cities can implement innovative technologies to improve the quality of life of their residents.
  • Exploring the business case for tiny homes: Jessica Levesque is continuing her work on developing a tiny homes community through BUS 492: Directed Studies course on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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