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The York University Brief

April 2019 
York University celebrates 60th anniversary with new university global impact ranking

On April 3, Times Higher Education (THE) revealed the list of global leaders in their new Impact rankings. Based on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the THE Impact ranking highlights how the higher education sector is contributing to international efforts to build a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable world. York University has placed an impressive 26th in the world and fifth in Canada. THE evaluated more than 450 universities from 77 countries in this inaugural Impact ranking.

These rankings reflect York’s significant contributions in producing the globally-educated leaders of tomorrow, advancing fundamental and applied research, and the knowledge transfer for lasting impact on creating inclusive, sustainable and prosperous communities.
This year marks York’s 60th anniversary and 60 years of making an impact. Read more…

Health Ecosphere collaboration leads to innovative digital health tech solutions to urgent healthcare challenges

Health Ecosphere, an innovative project established to support the development of digital health technologies in Canada, has led to the commercialization of over 75 new products, the creation of nearly 100 new partnerships, and the formation of a new business model for moving health-tech prototypes to market.

The lead partners of Health Ecosphere – York University, Southlake Regional Health Centre and the University Health Network – celebrated the successes of the three-year project, along with the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Member of Parliament Ali Ehsassi participated in the closing event on behalf of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains. The project received $15 million in federal funding in 2016.

The new products and services developed through Health Ecosphere are offering solutions to urgent healthcare issues. Technologies developed include healthcare apps and medical that are designed to connect and coordinate healthcare, address fiscal impacts of the proliferation of chronic disease, help individuals change their behaviours, and leverage big data to develop and commercialize solutions.

Health Ecosphere ventures have created $12 million in revenues, and the products and services continue to spread to markets in Canada, North America, Europe and beyond.
Read more…
York U Key Collaborator in the new GTHA Smart Freight Centre with funding and research space

Government dignitaries from all levels gathered on April 12 at the launch event of the Smart Freight Centre. A five-year collaborative network with York University, the Region of Peel, McMaster University and the University of Toronto, the Centre will use research to inform practices and pilots on regionally significant goods movement issues and projects in Peel Region and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to reduce community and environmental impacts of moving goods.

Goods movement extends beyond municipal boundaries in the GTHA; the region requires a safe and efficient network to move goods and deliver services to communities and businesses. The Smart Freight Centre’s goal is to propose practical solutions and strategies aimed at improving quality of life and promoting ongoing economic vibrancy across the GTHA, and to break down silos in addressing shared concerns.

Some of the projects to be conducted during the first year include an off-peak delivery pilot study, truck-friendly lane measures and strategies, and an e-commerce strategy to investigate the impact of online shopping on logistics operations.
Read more…
York University and IBM develop and launch AI-powered student support pilot

York University and IBM have launched an innovative student support solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide academic and personal guidance that covers a wide range of topics in real time. 

Since starting a pilot phase in January, there have been more than 75,000 student interactions with the virtual assistant. These interactions and over 1,700 feedback comments have been used to train the solution, improving the way it understands student questions and the answers it provides.

Developed collaboratively by York and IBM, this virtual assistant demonstrates how technology – specifically AI – can be used in an educational setting to enhance student experience. This is the first time that IBM AI technology has been used in this way at a Canadian university.
Read more…
Blade Filters wins top startup award in York University’s LaunchYU program for entrepreneurs

A startup company that is significantly lowering the cost of indoor air filtration has taken the top prize in an annual York University competition for entrepreneurs.

The three finalist teams in the competition, whose members have all graduated from York University’s LaunchYU Accelerator program, were judged on their ability to take their venture to market and scale. The winner of this year’s $25,000 Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award, Blade Filters, will receive $12,500 in cash and an equal amount in Aird & Berlis StartupSource legal services.

Blade Filters is innovating in the field of indoor air filtration by cutting the cost of carbon air filtration. The company has developed a patented replaceable cartridge design that generates savings of approximately 30 per cent for users by enabling them to replace an inner filter in an outer shell that has been fabricated to last.

Innovation York’s LaunchYU supports entrepreneurs at different stages of growth. Since its
start in 2014, it has supported more than 250 ventures and hundreds of entrepreneurs. LaunchYU ventures have raised more than $12.5 million in funding and have generated over $3 million in revenues. Read more…
Disappearing bumblebee species under threat of extinction: York U study

A team of researchers at York University has warned that the American bumblebee is facing imminent extinction from Canada, and this could lead to "cascading impacts" throughout the country. The imminent extinction classification is considered the highest and most at-risk classification before extinction.

About 42 of the more than 850 species of bees in Canada are bumblebees — important pollinators needed to grow crops, including apples, tomatoes, blueberries and legumes, as well as trees, shrubs and wildflowers.

The researchers found that the American bumblebee's area of occurrence has decreased by about 70 per cent and its relative abundance fell by 89 per cent from 2007 to 2016 compared to 1907 to 2006.
York University named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for seventh straight year

York University has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the seventh straight year, gaining national recognition for reducing annual electrical consumption by 34,730,786 kWh, saving $5 million in utilities every year, and recycling 3,705,780 kg of waste.

York University’s sustainability highlights include: 

  • successfully reducing the use of single occupant vehicles to the Keele campus from 70 per cent to 20 per cent;
  • diverting 68 per cent of waste from landfills through York’s ZeroWaste program;
  • and replacing disposable water bottles with water refill stations across the University.

The York University Brief is York University’s monthly newsletter that showcases some of our latest research and institutional news. Although anyone can subscribe, our readership primarily consists of our government and community partners and is meant to provide insight into the work done at the University and its potential links to work done in government and in the community. The York University Brief is typically published monthly from September to June.

If you would like more information on any of the stories in this edition, please find the contact information for the members of our Government and Community Relations team listed below. 

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Ijade Maxwell Rodrigues
Chief of Government and Community Relations
Shawna Teper
Government and Community Relations Officer
Lucas Anderson 
Government Relations Officer
Laksh Vig
Government Relations Assistant

York University, Office of the President
1050 Kaneff Tower, York University, 4700 Keele St. Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3

t. 416.736.5200 e.