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Maximizing Online Entrepreneurship Education Opportunities

Posted on July 27 2016 | Author: Carolyn Dowling

There are numerous online educational opportunities that can be accessed to enhance your personal or professional aptitude beyond the textbooks and lectures of conventional school learning. The demand for online courses is rapidly increasing due to the shear increase in accessibility to and reliance on high-speed Internet, the explosion of “convenience culture” fostered by Generations X and Y, and the rise of “Do-It-Yourself” and entrepreneurship. Since entrepreneurship is the name of the game for Bioenterprise, maximizing free online education is critical for our entrepreneurs from where to begin with a concept for a new technology, product or service all the way down the commercialization pathway for how to secure retail shelf space and investment.

Although a number of Canadian colleges and universities have started to offer in-class and online entrepreneurship training and education, there may be limited industry-specific case studies, examples, and resources available through these academic routes. It is often beneficial to test-drive these programs through a free online portal and create your own curriculum that you can then complement with other industry sources. If you discover some courses with fees, be sure to investigate if an “audit” option is available, so that you can determine what works for you without necessarily investing your hard-earned dollars.

One of the most popular online platforms is massive open online course (MOOC) provider, Coursera. Although the options range from business to data science to engineering, all courses are based on a professional compilation of short video lectures, interactive quizzes, some peer-graded assessment, and virtual forums for connecting with fellow learners and instructors from top universities and colleges. For example, the University of Maryland offers an Entrepreneurship Specialization composed of three top-ranked courses: “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship”, “Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea to Marketplace”, and “New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs”.  These courses provide a general introduction to entrepreneurship, industry, markets and capital.

EdX is another virtual MOOC provider founded by Harvard University and MIT to offer courses from the world’s best institutions covering most of the same topics as Coursera. Again, EdX offers a number of programs in the entrepreneurship stream. Specifically, “Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?” is a good place to start to identify the right direction to take your business in.

Aside from the virtual classrooms offered by Coursera and EdX, the enterprise-learning portal, Degreed, offers a curated collection of articles and videos from online resources. Specifically, Degreed’s “Entrepreneurship Learning Pathway” includes a series of lessons from a foundational overview of entrepreneurship to practical applications of entrepreneurship in action.  Some of the advanced topics include “Women Entrepreneurs”, “Economic Development” and “Global Perspective”.

MaRS Discovery District is a notable Canadian hub connecting entrepreneurs with resources, talent, and tools necessary to succeed. One of their flagship resources is the “Entrepreneur’s Toolkit”, which include a library of resources, hands-on workshops, as well as Canada’s largest live and online entrepreneurship course, “Entrepreneurship 101”. MaRS also offers a Certificate in Entrepreneurship in collaboration with the University of Toronto if you want to take your online learning to the next level. More recently, MaRS introduced the online portal “Bizsmarts”, which is a joint project with Futurpreneur Canada and Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) that provides a wealth of resources from basic start-up costs up to raising investment dollars.

Whether you are considering starting a business on your own or expanding your current business, knowledge is an invaluable tool in the entrepreneur tool belt. The examples above are but a few of the online education forums available for entrepreneurs. Keep in mind the same theory applies to all free online programs – you get out what you put into it. Ongoing engagement with peers and instructors, studying real-life scenarios and case studies, and finding programs that are relevant to your company, stage, product/technology, goals and even tailored to your learning style will be critical success factors in maximizing your online education experience.

Carolyn Dowling
Senior Analyst



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What’s the Difference – HACCP vs HARPC?

Posted on July 22 2016 | Author: Admin

There is some confusion over HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and the more-recent food-safety plan, HARPC (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls) that is part of FSMA.

Just to recap, 6 out of 7 rules of FSMA have now been published, and if you are a U.S. based food operation, you need to be actively working out how to comply.  One of the key questions that food processing companies are struggling with is how to use HACCP to shift to HARPC. So what’s all the fuss about?  What are the main differences between these two systems?

HACCP is a global standard that was developed in the late 1950’s by a team of engineers from Pillsbury, the U.S. Army’s Natick Research Labs and NASA which joined forces to make a global food safety standard in line with Codex Alimentary. Originally the point of developing a HACCP System was to ensure quality and food safety, specifically for the manned space program.  In 1974, the U.S. FDA incorporated its concepts into its low acid and acidified food regulations, and by the end of 1980’s, McDonald’s started requiring all of its suppliers to adhere to HACCP in order to ensure the food being served in its restaurants were safe. The key motivation for implementing HACCP was not the requirement to meet regulations.  The real motive for implementing HACCP was simply to gain more market share.  Most large companies followed McDonald’s lead and HACCP became the standard to measure food safety. Later, in 1989, the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) published the first official HACCP document, which standardized the process by presenting seven principles as follows:

  1. Hazard Analysis
  2. Critical Control Point Identification
  3. Establishment of Critical Limits
  4. Processes for Monitoring
  5. Corrective Actions
  6. Record Keeping
  7. Establishment of Verification Procedures.

At this point in time, the standard for food safety was very clear, and HACCPs use spread globally. In contrast, HARPC is not a global standard, but an updated U.S. standard that was incorporated into the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on July 4th, 2012. HARPC applies to almost all-food processing facilities in the United States.  The only facilities not required to comply with HARPC are those subject to the Standards of Produce Safety, those already governed by HACCP and those facilities regulated by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for Dietary Supplements. Small and very small businesses, as defined by FDA are also exempt.  HARPC requires facilities to:

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis for all food processing procedures
  2. Develop and implement preventative controls, and then monitor their effectiveness
  3. Provide a detailed plan in writing, describing how the hazards will be controlled, the preventative controls, and a schedule and method for monitoring the controls
  4. Verify the effectiveness of the controls and maintain written records of the verification
  5. Re-analyze the HARPC Plan at least every three years; more often as new product lines are added or changes are made to equipment or process.

HARPC takes HACCP a step further and includes planning and assessing risk that might occur as a result of contamination from the environment.  Even though cleaning and sanitation are not CCPs under HACCP, in HARPC cleanliness and sanitation become key preventative steps that need to be controlled.

Finally a very key difference in these two systems is that HARPC also includes risk assessments resulting from potential terrorist acts, intentional adulteration and food fraud. Under HARPC, it is expected that a food processing facility has a food defense plan that includes security, visitor access and control.

In summary, six out of seven FSMA rules are already passed with compliance deadlines for larger companies coming up as early as November 2016.  It’s important for you to understand what your organization needs to have in place in order to meet these new requirements.

Rule Final Rule Published  
Compliance Non Small    
Compliance Small  
Compliance Very Small   
PC Human Food    11/16/2015 11/16/2016 11/16/2017  11/16/2018
PC Animal Food    1/26/2016 1/26/2017 1/26/2018 1/26/2019
FSVP 11/27/2015 3/17/2016 9/17/2017 9/17/2017
Produce Safety 11/27/2015 1/26/2017 1/26/2018 1/26/2019
Sanitary Transport 4/6/2016 4/6/2017 4/6/2018 N/A
Food Defense 5/27/2016 5/27/2017 5/27/2018 5/27/2019
Third Party Certification                           11/27/2016 01/26/2016 01/26/2016 


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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What's The Number 1 Driver of Shareholder Value

Posted on July 20 2016 | Author: Admin

Quick: Name the most important driver of shareholder value in your organization: a) products, b) technology, c) timing, d) talent.

Talent is the correct answer. The caliber of your leaders drives shareholder value. But when seeking to hire and develop leadership talent, many companies encounter two problems: 1) failing to make hiring and developing leaders a top priority, and 2) setting fuzzy requirements when recruiting leaders to the organization.

“Many companies put off dealing with talent issues because people are ‘messy,’” said Jon Leafstedt, managing partner for Kincannon & Reed. “But if you don’t focus on the “soft” issues around people, then ultimately you won’t deliver the hard financial results you want for your shareholders.”

So how can your company tackle these talent issues to achieve greater shareholder value?

1) Make talent acquisition and development a priority

According to a McKinsey & Company survey of 410 corporate officers at 35 large U.S. companies, the organizations who hired a top performer into a general management role saw a 49 percent increase in profits, versus companies that hired an average performer into the same role. In operations, the effect was a 40 percent increase in productivity; and in sales, hiring a high performer produced as much as a 67 percent increase in revenue.

Of the managers surveyed who said they had worked for an underperformer, 86 percent said, “They (the underperformers) made me want to leave the company.” Still, despite the empirical evidence, talent acquisition and development are often seen as the sole domain of Human Resources.

How can a company better prioritize talent acquisition and development?

The drive for building high levels of talent into the organization must come from the top. “Senior leadership must focus on acquiring and developing talent,” said Leafstedt. “If top leaders fail to do this, they have abdicated a core responsibility — with repercussions within the organization and to the bottom line.”

The tone is set when your senior leadership team advocates and participates in setting high standards for talent acquisition and development, and then measures and rewards success. Similarly, the Board of Directors signals its priorities when talent acquisition and development are fully integrated into Board agendas and deliberations, as well as the metrics for the CEO’s evaluation process.

“Rigorous assessment of top leaders to see how they’re doing with hiring and growing mid-level and lower-level leaders is key to having a ‘bench’ to pull from for future leadership positions,” said Leafstedt. “Management has to be measured and rewarded in these areas. If it’s not measured, it’s not going to just happen.”

To effectively acquire and develop talent, a company must also have a clear, long-term strategy to match talent and cultural fit. Senior leaders have to understand and agree on the culture they want to cultivate in the organization. If you are happy with your company’s culture, ask yourselves as leaders how you are supporting and reinforcing that culture through the recruiting and on-boarding process with new employees.

It’s important to note that it takes time to see the effect of making talent a priority. There are no shortcuts.

2) Be specific on your requirements 

It’s easy enough to come up with a wish list of the qualities you want in hiring leaders across your organization. But the reality is that if you leave needs assessment to the gut feeling of, “I’ll know the right people when I see them,” then you may fall into the second trap: setting fuzzy requirements for leader recruitment.

To separate the “need to haves” from the “nice to haves,” hiring managers should look at the whole organization. Consider questions like:
• How does your organization compare with similar companies and/or your competition across key talent areas?
• Spin the clock forward a few years. What would affirm that you are selecting the right people? What would success look like for the part of the organization they lead?
• What stage is your company in? Start-up organizations often require a different type of leadership style and experience base from established companies

These types of questions will help you recognize the right talent and evaluate each prospective employee’s fit with your organization, needs, and culture. Then you can answer questions about a certain talent search such as:
• Are you looking for someone who has already done this job, or someone ready to step up?
• What are the critical keys for success in a given position: experience, skills, and behavioral attributes?
• In situations where a transformational leader is needed, do you need evolution or revolution? How much change can the organization stand?

Interestingly, the McKinsey study found no correlation between a company’s revenue growth and teams with solid, but unexceptional, leaders all-around. The improvements came with leaders who were exceptional in a few specific areas. That’s why Kincannon& Reed recommends that you focus on a few specific skills or competencies that new leaders must have in order to be outstanding.

“Remember that Superman and Wonder Woman are comic book characters.” said Leafstedt. “So rather than seeking a mythical person who has everything, including superpowers, use your needs and priorities to guide you to the candidates who have the critical skills and experiences to complement your current management team. If you thoroughly understand your strategy, the gaps in leadership to accomplishing your strategy, and the culture you’re trying to reinforce, then you are on your way to building an exceptional leadership team.”

Exceptional leaders = Exceptional results

Making talent acquisition and development a top priority and clearly defining recruiting needs and criteria—across your organization and for specific positions—will result in greater success, both in the satisfaction and contribution of your employees, and in longer-term results.

Leafstedt said: “The marketplace is not going to come along and assess your talent and leadership needs for you. These are not easy issues—they can be messy and slow to reach conclusions, but in the end, addressing them is absolutely worthwhile.”

“We have all worked in an environment with highly motivated, successful leaders who are focused on the right priorities,” he said. “It is exhilarating and rewarding to be part of that type of team. It’s helpful to keep that goal in mind as you find and develop new leadership talent.”

Written by: Jon Leafstedt, Managing Partner at Kincannon & Reed

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com

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Defining Innovation vs R&D

Posted on July 05 2016 | Author: Doug Knox

In a report from the Canadian Government’s-The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, Senate, entitled - Innovation in Agriculture: The Key to Feeding a Growing Population, June 2014 , the following excerpt is an attempt to position “Innovation”. Here, we will try to expand definitions to include the global community views.

The follow-on from these definitions and the proposed financial input for innovation is to be able to measure the impact of these investments on the economic health of the nation.

Innovation could be interpreted from different perspectives. Agencies who defined innovation believe that innovation can result from the transformation of knowledge, a new idea, or a technological breakthrough to improve or create new business or manufacturing products, services or processes. However, as one witness pointed out in citing a definition from the Business Development Bank of Canada, innovation can also be stimulated by vision and entrepreneurship.

Innovation is really about responding to change in a creative way. It’s about generating new ideas, conducting R&D, improving processes or revamping products and services. At another level, it’s also about a mindset in your business: one where your staff, whether in the executive offices or on the shop floor, are always focused on continuous improvement and constantly thinking outside of the box. (Mr. Rory McAlpine, Vice-President, Government and Industry Relations, Maple Leaf Foods, 25 April 2013)

According to witnesses, innovation must also create added value. Innovation is not limited to research activities; it is therefore imperative that the innovation continuum include a commercialization stage with prototype development or a pilot project and its transfer to the field. Support activities relating to training and extension are also needed to facilitate the adoption of changes resulting from the innovation continuum. Innovation is also driven by the establishment of an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework as well as appropriate financial support measures. Innovation in Agriculture: The Key to Feeding a Growing Population, Page 37. 

Innovation Definitions (Based on OECD "Oslo Manual", 3rd edition, 2005)
Definitions compiled by: Rajnish Tiwari  20008   Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH)

  • An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.
  • The  minimum requirement  for  an  innovation  is  that  the  product,  process,  marketing method or organizational method must be new (or significantly improved) to the firm.
  • Innovation activities are all scientific, technological, organizational, financial and commercial steps which actually, or are intended to, lead to the implementation of innovations. Innovation activities also include R&D that is not directly related to the development of a specific innovation.
  • An innovative firm is one that has implemented an innovation during the period under review.

Main Types of Innovation
1) A product innovation is the introduction of a good or service that is new or significantly improved with respect to its characteristics or intended uses. This includes significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. Product innovations can utilize new knowledge or technologies, or can be based on new uses or combinations of existing knowledge or technologies.

2) A process innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. This includes significant changes in techniques, equipment and/or software. Process innovations can be intended to decrease unit costs of production or delivery, to increase quality, or to produce or deliver new or significantly improved products.

3) A marketing innovation is the implementation of a new marketing method involving significant changes in product design or packaging, product placement, product promotion or pricing. Marketing innovations are aimed at better addressing customer needs, opening up new markets, or newly positioning a firm's product on the market, with the objective of increasing the firm's sales.

4) An organizational innovation is the implementation of a new organizational method in the firm's business practices, workplace organization or external relations. Organizational innovations can be intended to increase a firm's performance by reducing administrative costs or transaction costs, improving workplace satisfaction (and thus labor productivity), gaining access to non-tradable assets (such as non-codified external knowledge) or reducing costs of supplies.

Defining Research and Development (R&D) (Based on OECD's "Frascati Manual", 2002 edition)
In accordance with the approach advocated by the Frascati Manual, this defines R&D as  "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications". The term "research and experimental development" is used as synonymous to the term "research and development" and both are abbreviated by the expression "R&D".

The term R&D covers three activities: basic research, applied research and experimental development:

  • Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.
  • Applied research is also original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge.  It  is,  however,  directed  primarily  towards  a  specific  practical  aim  or objective.
  • Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed. R&D covers both formal R&D in R&D

The boundaries of R&D: Clarification of specific cases
The basic criterion for distinguishing R&D from related activities is the presence in R&D of an appreciable element of novelty and the resolution of scientific and/or technological uncertainty.

  • A prototype is an original model constructed to include all the technical characteristics and performances of the new product. The design, construction and testing of prototypes normally falls within the scope of R&D.
  • The construction and operation of a pilot plant is a part of R&D as long as the principal purposes are to obtain experience and to compile engineering and other data.
  • Those elements of industrial design work, which include plans and drawings aimed at defining procedures, technical specifications and operational features necessary to the conception, development and manufacturing of new products and processes.
  • Clinical trials are divided into four standard phases, three of which take place before permission to manufacture is accorded. By convention, clinical trial phases 1, 2 and 3 can be treated as R&D. Phase 4 clinical trials, which continue testing the drug or treatment after approval and manufacture, are treated as R&D only if they bring about a further scientific or technological advance.


Doug Knox
Vice President of Technology

Innovation In Agriculture: The Key To Feeding A Growing Population, June 2014
Oslo Manual: Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data, 3rd Edition
Frascati Manual 2002: Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development


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