In March of 2019, the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) published the Innovator’s Handbook – A Guide for Graduate Students, in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FoMD). This was the result of over six months of work, where I was hired as the Innovation Handbook Lead to direct the project from start to finish.
Graduate students are the coming generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, but many of them don’t know how to start. There is a lot to learn about intellectual property and entrepreneurship that is pretty daunting for a grad student.
Where do you start? Who’s there to help you? And where do you find time outside of your ongoing research/project/dissertation to find out?
The University wanted a single publication targeted towards students without being another “stuffy” formal document that nobody read. They wanted a dynamic and interesting product that resonated with students.
The goal of the Handbook was to gather everything that could help these students in one spot, showcasing all of the ways that the University of Alberta already helps their students.
We wanted to create something that would empower students to take that first step towards their new idea, no matter what discipline they were in. We didn’t want to create a prescribed set of steps towards innovation, but instead offer starting points where students can feel comfortable approaching mentors and resources in the community.
Being the Handbook Lead meant that not only did I do the graphic design for this book, I also did the planning, research, interviews, and writing. I reached out to as many on-campus organizations that we could find that supported innovation and entrepreneurship. I also compiled an extensive list of accelerators, incubators, funders, and support organizations in Edmonton and Alberta that students could learn more about.
We also worked closely with TEC Edmonton—the university’s technology management group—to better understand the university’s intellectual property framework. I dedicated an entire chapter to teaching readers about how technology transfer worked. TEC Edmonton verified the accuracy of the chapter’s contents.
We agreed that this book should be more dynamic and friendly, so I used bold colours and photographs to keep the reader visually engaged and excited. I avoided using an overly formal tone in my writing and instead stuck to a conversational tone to keep it approachable.
I have been told this book has been well-received. The FGSR has circulated copies of the Handbook across campus, including the Vice President (Research)’s office and the Deans of the faculties we reached out to.
I’m incredibly proud of how this turned out, but this project would not have been possible without the continued help of the FGSR and FoMD, as well as every student innovator and support organization I reached out to. I’m incredibly grateful for all of their support.