TELUS Idea incubator opens to help startups dream big

What if a sensor in a lightbulb could evaluate the ambient temperature and the light in your home and adjust appropriately for your comfort? Going further, what if it could observe patterns within the home and tell if a loved one was having a stroke; or give your doctor access through an app, to allow better informed medical decisions? For TELUS’ chief dreamer and founder of the TELUS Innovation Lab program, Allen Devine, this was the challenge as he looked to technology to provide comfort and assistance for his own mother. Ultimately, new data-driven technology helped her get the assistance she needed quickly, improving her quality of life. That experience drives him to work with others to build innovation that helps real human beings.

“There are no limitations, anyone can participate and post ideas onto this virtual world.”

Devine spoke about his experience recently at TELUS Garden in downtown Vancouver. He aims to make this kind of big data innovation a reality, by connecting startups, policy makers, and business executives to reach the bigger picture. Their online forum launches later this year, but they’re already reaching out to entrepreneurs and innovators who want to get involved.

“What we wanted to do was create a facility where startups, universities, and major corporations can all work together on ideas and bring them to fruition,” Devine says. “Normally, accelerators help startups in their day-to-day operations and financing and do a great job at it. What we wanted to do was go up a layer and work on the political burdens that are going to be impacting them. So rather than taking the company and giving them a place to work out of everyday and giving them venture capital, we decided to look at it from a different angle.”

Essentially, the Innovation Lab is a response to high demand from a ready marketplace. “When we first put the question out there to existing accelerators, and said ‘Okay guys, this is what we were thinking, what do you think?’ they went and checked with all 54 of their startups.”

The result is a process that starts online, with an online forum where entrepreneurs, developers, and any interested individuals can post an idea and share ideas. “We wanted to create a community, so we are creating an online portal where everybody can post ideas, and virtually the community can start to comment on it,” said Devine. “Others can post what works with that idea, what doesn’t work, and who they know that can volunteer to support that idea. So there are no limitations, anyone can participate and post ideas onto this virtual world. From there the top ideas will funnel up into the facility in the hopes of becoming a reality.”

Once ideas enter the incubator they are broken down into three phases: mock-up, proof of concept and finally a bootcamp to get them to market. “Our goal is to link ideas and start ups to achieve a bigger goal, so come at any point. We may not be able to use an idea right away, but at some point we will come back and link you.” 

To become involved with Devine and the TELUS Innovation Lab, individuals and companies are encouraged to connect with him on Linkedin. “My job is to take people outside to see a utopian world that they wouldn’t have access to, where everyone works and talks together, turning dreams into reality.”


Charis Whitbourne

Charis Whitbourne is a PR practitioner and writer keen on discovering all that technology has to offer.

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