Photo: Matt Llewellyn

Ryerson’s new Science Discovery Zone to prioritize scientific method

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By Justin Chandler

Ryerson has a new zone.

The Science Discovery Zone (SDZ) will focus on what academic director Bryan Koivisto calls “evidence-based innovation.” He said traditional entrepreneurship involves developing an idea, then pitching it “until you get a sucker.”

The problem with that is “you start believing your own bullshit,” Koivisto said. He wants people at the SDZ to develop ideas using the scientific method (testing projects to ensure they really work) so that they produce good products.

Those products should address problems people have, particularly how to save time by doing multiple things at once, Koivisto said.

Zone learning is a program at Ryerson that connects students with ideas for business and technology start-ups with resources and industry professionals.  In addition to the SDZ, there are 10 zones. They range in focus from fashion to law.

The SDZ pilot launched on Sept. 6, but it will officially open in mid-October.

Koivisto teaches and does research at Ryerson. He said he wants to attract students from science and other fields who have ideas for products but may be nervous about the idea of entrepreneurship, a key part of most zones. Koivisto wants to promote student activity at the zone as “innovation” rather than “entrepreneurship” because the former is less intimidating. He said working at the SDZ will teach risk-averse students how to be more entrepreneurial.

Part of that will involve fostering a supportive environment. Koivisto says people at the zone will be trained not to say no when critiquing ideas, but to ask “have you thought of this?”

“Everyone has good ideas and we can help make them great,” Koivisto said.

He said the SDZ will be a good way for intelligent people who don’t learn well in university to excel.

The zone will also attract businesses and people from outside of Ryerson to the university, Koivisto said. He wants everyone involved in the zone—alumni, students, faculty and businesses—to all benefit from partnerships.

Public-private partnerships will be common at the SDZ.

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