Media Releases

» Go to news main

New Dalhousie University sandbox trains students to translate scientific discovery into economic growth

Posted by Media Centre on January 8, 2019 in News

(Halifax, N.S.) Tuesday, January 8, 2019 – Dalhousie University and the Government of Nova Scotia today announced the opening of a new innovation sandbox. Hosted in the university’s Faculty of Science, the Science Unleashed: Research Growing the Economy (SURGE) sandbox will facilitate the training and mentoring of students in the areas of innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship. SURGE ( will foster talent development and economic growth in provincial science-based sectors such as oceans, clean technology, and life sciences.

“We’re pleased to partner with fellow educators, industry partners and the provincial government to grow the innovation ecosystem in our region,” said Alice Aiken, Dalhousie’s Vice President, Research and Innovation. “This is about supporting students who want to innovate. Sandboxes give them a place that sparks creativity while working together to brainstorm, test and fine-tune ideas, then move those ideas through to the next phase of innovation.”

SURGE is one of ten sandboxes in Nova Scotia, five of them hosted at Dalhousie. SURGE joins ShiftKey Labs (Faculty of Computer Science), IDEA Sandbox (Faculty of Engineering), and Cultiv8 (Faculty of Agriculture) at the university, while a health innovation sandbox is underway.

Sandboxes are widely-known as collaborative spaces that bring together multidisciplinary teams to develop ideas and innovative solutions that tackle important local and global problems.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are necessary to move our province forward,” said Ben Jessome, MLA for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville on behalf of Labi Kousoulis, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. “Nova Scotia’s network of sandboxes helps us build capacity for innovation and foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among the next generation.”

SURGE will offer a range of courses, workshops, and events for university students, faculty, and industry throughout the year. SURGE activities begin this month with a new innovation course for science students. Next month the sandbox will host a three-day “deep dive” where teams of students will explore science-focused augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications in a ‘hackathon’ format.

“We aim to train students on how to identify and work through the world’s big problems—those where solutions rooted in science present opportunities for commercialization and entrepreneurship,” said Aaron Newman, Director of SURGE at Dalhousie. “Students will get hands-on experience building solutions based on their own ideas and backed by science. They’re the next generation of leaders and sandbox initiatives help these students turn lessons learned in classrooms and labs into companies and products that can benefit society.”

The Government of Nova Scotia is supporting SURGE with $1.05-million in funding.


Dalhousie University
Niecole Comeau
Communications – Faculty of Science
Cell: 902.223.2446

Department of Labour and Advanced Education
Shannon Kerr
Cell: 902.717.6061




All comments require a name and email address. You may also choose to log-in using your preferred social network or register with Disqus, the software we use for our commenting system. Join the conversation, but keep it clean, stay on the topic and be brief. Read comments policy.

comments powered by Disqus