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Lassonde’s BEST Program launches ‘Bridge to Startup’ initiative, empowering student entrepreneurs

The Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) program at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering recently unveiled its newest initiative, the BEST Bridge to Startup (BB2S) program.

BB2S runs throughout the summer and aims to empower teams of undergraduate and graduate students to develop their capstone projects or research prototypes into successful startups by equipping them with entrepreneurial skills and resources. The four-month program provides a unique opportunity for students nearing graduation to explore entrepreneurship as part of a team on a full-time basis and receive mentorship, coaching and funding.

With a grant of $10,000 as a salary and $5,000 for project expenses, participating students are refining their business strategies, gaining valuable insights, and contributing to the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem at Lassonde. As part of the program, each team will have the opportunity to work with a Schulich MBA/Masters/BBA Intern to help develop competitive intelligence reports, go-to-market strategies, fundraising plans and product roadmaps.

Handi-Fuel group members working on their prototype
Handi-Fuel group members working on their prototype
MechTronX group members
MechTronX group members working on their prototype

By encouraging students to embrace entrepreneurship, the program aims to cultivate a generation of innovative and socially responsible entrepreneurs who will lead the way in creating solutions for a just and sustainable world. “Our BEST Bridge to Startup (BB2S) program helps students turn their capstone prototypes into successful ventures using cutting-edge technologies,” says Maedeh Sedaghat, BEST Program Manager. “We provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the necessary skills, resources and mentorship to confidently navigate their entrepreneurial journey. Our goal is to cultivate a community of innovators who use their talent and purpose to build a better and more sustainable future.”

Reefers Technologies Inc group members working on their prototype
Reefers Technologies Inc. group members working on their prototype
PowerRanger group members working on their prototype
PowerRanger group members working on their prototype

This summer, there are five projects taking part in BB2S:

Reefers Technologies Inc.: An energy recovery system that uses exhaust gases to create electricity to power the refrigeration system of refrigerated truck trailers.

Handi-Fuel: A project that is providing automated, accessible fuelling for mobility-challenged drivers. Mobility-challenged drivers need help getting out of their vehicles to fuel up their vehicles. The team is building a robotic arm that will eliminate this need.

Chatbase: An AI chatbot builder that trains ChatGPT on data and allows users to add a chat widget to their website. Chatbase leverages the power of ChatGPT to create a custom, intelligent chatbot for any website by training it on specific data sources. This results in a highly accurate, responsive chatbot that understands user queries, retrieves relevant information and provides natural language answers.

MechTronX Inc.: An innovative tech company that specializes in addressing the research and development (R&D) needs of startups. MechTronX’s mission is to provide cost-effective, customized solutions that cater to the unique technical requirements of early-stage companies by offering a comprehensive range of services, including consultation, simulation, prototyping, and assistance with mass manufacturing. 

PowerRanger Multifunctional Robotic Platform: A project that takes a proactive approach to power line maintenance; enhancing efficiency, reducing downtime, and improving the overall reliability of power infrastructure by using an autonomous power line inspection robot for preventative maintenance. Their robot scans power lines using sensors and cameras to detect potential damage. Images are then sent to a centralized database where machine learning algorithms analyze them, identifying any issues. Geotagging ensures the easy location of areas of concern for ground workers.