Our Founder and CEO, Dr. Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, joined Sean Weisbrot, host of the We Live to Build podcast, to talk about her previous career in cryptography, her new role encouraging women in business, and the power of female investors.
Profound Impact’s founder and CEO, Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, participated in a conversation with host Vincent Turner in the July 9th Shape the System podcast. Shape the System features conversations with inspiring people who are rethinking society’s solutions to global problems.
The focus of the podcast was how Profound Impact, through Research Impact, works to connect resources and capital in the form of research partnerships and funding to great people who are doing great things. While Profound Impact’s genesis was to articulate and visualize the impact of individuals within an organization, Sherry noted that the company listened to customers to understand their challenges and pivoted to develop the Research Impact product to meet those needs.
The $300 billion in global research funding available annually for 8.8 million researchers and hundreds of thousands of industry partners around the world can be seen as either a problem, if that funding is difficult to access, or an opportunity for conducting fundamental and breakthrough research. Research Impact’s use of AI and machine learning ensures that funding is used efficiently by the right people by connecting researchers to the funding programs most appropriate to their work. The automation of the matching process done by Research Impact means that researchers can focus on their ground-breaking work and research administrators can do their jobs more efficiently and accurately.
Shape the System aims to inspire more people to follow their purpose, deepen their resolve and have a bigger impact. The conversation with Sherry illustrated how her experience as a mathematician, cryptographer, technology sales executive and serial entrepreneur led to the founding of Profound Impact to meet that same goal by providing tools that allow researchers to make the greatest impact by solving issues of global importance.
Industry – Research Collaboration Webinars
Profound Impact is excited to announce our participation in two CS-CAN webinars for a discussion on new strategies for matching funding and researchers. The webinar series will run in two parts on March 24, 2023 and April 20, 2023.
Webinar #1 – March 24, 2023 – View the recording here
Industry – Research Collaboration: Benefits and Challenges
Connections between industry, colleges and universities are vital as researchers seek industry partners for federally and provincially-funded research programs and industry looks to researchers for insight into long-term research directions as strategic development road maps are developed.
This webinar will discuss the benefits of collaboration to researchers, students and industry partners as well as the challenges in identifying potential partners and developing collaborative agreements.
This webinar features:
- Emily Gordon, Advisor, Business Development at Mitacs
- Camelia Nunez, Manager of Operations at the Lazaridis Institute at Wilfrid Laurier University
- Ig Kolenko, Executive Director at the Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Recycling Technologies (SMART) Centre at Conestoga College
Webinar #2 – April 20, 2023, 3:00 PM EST – View the recording here
Industry – Research Collaboration: Best Practices and Tools for Success
What makes an industry-researcher collaboration a success?
Hear from the experts:
- Vio Onut, Principal R&D Strategist at the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) at IBM Canada and Adjunct Professor at University of Ottawa;
- Jennifer Moles, Director, R&D Collaboration and Commercialization Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI)
- George Shaker, Principal Scientist and Head of Research at Spark Technology Labs (STL).
- Brian Romansky of Profound Impact demonstrates the Research Impact matching tool.
You can view both webinars with this playlist on Youtube!
As a well-known serial entrepreneur, Sherry Shannon-Vanstone has made a significant contribution to the spectrum of digital industries from information security to telecommunications and technology, while also making a major contribution to the advancement of all women. She is an extraordinary leader and visionary who has made a material difference to the roles women play and their influence in the digital economy. Throughout Sherry’s career, she has been a trailblazer in the fields of STEM, business, and philanthropy.
In honour of her late husband, Scott A. Vanstone, Sherry founded Profound Impact in 2018 — a data driven platform for use by organizations and their stakeholders including alumni, researchers, and students to engage, discover, and measure the worldwide impact that the institution and its community have on technology and the world. It also aims to build a sense of community for a global audience of affinity groups such as women in STEM and entrepreneurs.
“There is a talent battle today. We are seeing digital transformation across every industry and with that, there is a huge opportunity and challenge.”
In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard and Scotiabank, we talk about Sherry’s entrepreneurship journey, how she leverages data with her clients, and the importance of empowering women in STEM.
How to Effectively Communicate and Match Research Funding Opportunities – February 22, 2022 12:00 noon
Missed the event? You can listen to the recording of this webinar as well as view previous Profound Insights events by visiting us at demo.profoundimpact.com/profound-insights.
Join special guests Jonathan Newman, Vice President of Research, and Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Officer at Wilfrid Laurier University, along with Rob Darling, Strategic Advisor at Profound Impact for insights on research matching and communication challenges between universities, research organizations and funding bodies.
Profound Impact, in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University’s Office of Research Services unit, recently set out to better understand how Research Services Offices (RSO) across Canada communicate funding opportunities, partnership opportunities, and research policies to faculty members and other university/research institute stakeholders. Profound Impact and Laurier partnered on a national survey in the 4th quarter of 2021 to gain a deeper understanding of how research service units and staff communicate funding opportunities and received 40 responses from over 23 universities and research institutions across Canada.
Led by moderator Sherryl Petricevic from Profound Impact, this Profound Insights webinar will discuss the findings of the survey and how to effectively communicate and match research funding opportunities, highlighting:
- How the survey was conducted, participation and methodology
- A discussion of the problems facing RSO staff to match funding opportunities with researchers and communicate with internal and external stakeholders
- Findings from the report and key takeaways
Webinar attendees will be provided with a copy of the final survey report.
Don’t forget to add this event to your calendar and visit https://demo.profoundimpact.com/#/profound-insights on the day of to access the webinar!
Empowering the students and educators of today to create the relevant workforce of tomorrow – February 16, 2022 1:00 pm EST
Profound Impact’s Sherryl Petricevic will be a panelist in an upcoming GEDI Exchange webinar on the workforce of tomorrow. A workforce with relevant skills is the “air supply” on which Canada’s economy of the future will depend. But how to ensure alignment between employee education and the job market? Our guests this month use current student and alumni data to help colleges, universities, research institutes, and social profit organizations strategically optimize the type and content of the programs and services they deliver to the communities they serve.
Profound Impact and 1Mentor use data-driven insights to find and understand the key indicators for workplace progression and opportunities to improve candidate success. This information in turn is used to evaluate programming content and delivery, which is all the more important as it becomes increasingly critical to be “students for life”: many jobs today didn’t exist 10-20+ years ago, and the pace of change is accelerating, particularly in technical fields. It’s time to use the latest and greatest analytical tools and artificial intelligence techniques on the education system itself.
Forthlane Fridays Webinar – Canadian Contributions to a Cashless Society – October 29, 2021
Profound Impact’s Sherry Shannon-Vanstone joined panelists Alfred Menezes of the University of Waterloo and John Loeprich of 3iQ Corp to discuss Canadian contributions to a cashless society from both the macro and micro level that consumers do not often appreciate the importance of, including the technical side, energy and environmental implications.
If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here.
Here are the Key Takeaways from the webinar by Forthlane Partners.
The Cryptocurrency Landscape
- Regulators in Canada are playing an important role in helping Canada become a leader in transitioning to a cashless society.
- Since 3iQ Corp is the first company worldwide to receive regulatory approval for a prospectus product (the Bitcoin Fund) listed on a major stock exchange, it has made individuals a lot more comfortable. This has resulted in greater adoption in Canada.
- There has been significant portfolio adoption in the U.S., despite cryptocurrency being unregulated.
- Although cashless products are not a core-holding of any portfolios yet, we are seeing more comfort among a lot of institutional investors and hedge fund managers.
- Canada’s research and education organizations have enabled the commercialization of science. As a result, Canada has been a major contributor of information to the cryptocurrency industry.
- As a professor at Waterloo, Alfred Menezes has seen an increase in student interest in cryptography. As an example, a course Alfred teaches about cryptocurrency used to have enrollment of approximately 100 students but has now risen to over 275 students.
- The US government and MIT have partnered around digital currency. In Canada, this partnership would most likely be seen between the government and University of Waterloo.
- Waterloo has the largest research group in cryptography security. Waterloo has already launched the “Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute” with dozens of faculty members who are conducting research in this sector.
Cryptocurrency as the Reserve Currency of the World
- The early developers of Bitcoin and Ethereum comprised of a few anarchists and many strong libertarians. Overall, the founders tend to be very idealistic people. However, this idealistic perspective does not always align with the perspective of banks and nations.
- In principle, it would be wonderful if the world adopted one cryptocurrency, but in practice it is not realistic.
- On September 7, 2021, El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender and was the first country to do so. It is not clear why and whether it will be a success. It will be interesting to see what comes of this decision over the next few months and if Canada should follow.
- Many countries are very against Bitcoin becoming the new world’s reserve currency. Since the U.S. dollar is the current world’s reserve currency, the U.S. does not want Bitcoin to replace it.
- Cryptography helps address big problems, including democratization of access, cost of financial services, a hedge on government, and physical mobility (during WW2, Gold was heavy and immobile, so diamonds were viewed as the “more mobile” product).
- Bitcoin and Ethereum have been wonderful experiments to explore what is envisioned, but there is a lot more to blockchain, with many applications outside of cryptocurrency.
- To push cryptography forward, more commercialization opportunities and conversations are needed.
- We need to continue to encourage research and start-ups, which encourage collaboration. The government is helping to support this as well as the private industry. Monetary investments are also important to support research.
Real World Applications of Cryptography
- Finance companies are implementing security tools, prediction markets, and smart contracts which can all be implemented very quickly.
- The Top 5 banks in Canada have not felt the need to innovate over the last several years. A simple example here is still needing to pay $40 for a wire transfer.
- De-centralized finance can put pressure on the banks to innovate. For example, this could help reduce wire transfer costs and reduce overnight wait time for wire transfers to clear. Transactions could be instant.
- In theory, de-centralization is nice, but in reality, it is quite hard to achieve.
- Bitcoin was intended to be de-centralized, but decisions are ultimately made by the miners, so are quite centralized.
There are only a handful of miners in the world, and most of these miners were all in China, until a few months ago. Over the last few months, there has been a crack-down on miners in China.
Celebrating Profound Impact Day 2021 – September 14, 2021
Profound Impact Day 2021 featured special guest speaker Dr. Feridun Hamdullahpur, former president at the University of Waterloo. A self-proclaimed lifelong learner, Feridun Hamdullahpur has been a powerful force in building the University of Waterloo’s reputation as a leader in innovation and academic excellence.
The May webinar’s discussion was about the future of work—lifelong learning and talent resilience—and showcased how the Profound Impact platform and digital communities can be used 1) by employees to connect and network with each other throughout their careers and 2) by employers to not only retain employees but also to increase their branding as a good place to be from.
Creating Community During a Pandemic
The second episode of Profound Insights, Realtime Pivot – Connecting the Dots for Multi-Faceted, Engaging Virtual Events at Scale presented a compelling case study on how the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo employed the Profound Impact platform to significantly increase interaction between the faculty and alumni, students and partners – all in the midst of a global pandemic.
The Faculty of Mathematics had developed key goals for engaging with alumni in 2020:
• Build a sense of community and connection amongst global alumni, faculty, students, and partners;
• Regain lost alumni;
• Build a community of support and encouragement among female-identifying alumni, current/future students, faculty and researchers.
Two strategic initiatives were planned to achieve those goals:
Waterloo Math Digital Community, with a planned launch date of September 14, 2020
WWIN – the Waterloo Women’s Impact Network, with a planned launch date of May 12, 2020.
In March, 2020, COVID-19 hit the world and the Faculty of Mathematics pivoted to achieve those goals by working with Profound Impact.
In the space of two weeks, the planned Waterloo-local launch activities scheduled for the May launch of WWIN was transformed to a day-long online event hosted on the beta version of the Waterloo Math Digital Community platform. This allowed for an expanded program to include speakers and attendees from around the world and hundreds of users engaging in a real-time trial of the platform.
Instead of attracting the anticipated 100 attendees for a locally-based, in-person WWIN event, use of the Waterloo Math Digital Community allowed over 400 alumni from around the world to participate in the day’s activities, with fewer than 1% experiencing technical issues with the platform.
This inaugural use of the Waterloo Math Digital Community allowed UW Math to understand how users were engaging and interacting with the system and provided feedback by 87% of respondents that they would be likely or very likely to use the platform over time to discover relationships and network with alumni, students, and faculty members.
The successful launch of WWIN in May inspired UW Math to employ the Waterloo Math Digital Community platform in June for a celebration of the Class of 2020. Adjustments were made and additional features were added based on the previous user experience. As a result, over 600 participants were able to safely celebrate their graduation in a year when all in-person convocations were cancelled.
UW Math has continued to successfully employ the Waterloo Math Digital Community to engage with alumni, faculty and partners with events on Profound Impact Day on September 14 and Black and Gold alumni day on September 26.
The community maintains engagement with global alumni through webinars and alumni events and has grown to include over 800 participants from around the world.
The Profound Impact platform has provided the Faculty of Mathematics with a branded hub for engagement with alumni from around the world, real time access to data and visualization maps, integration with YouTube/Twitter and Zoom, the ability to develop groups within the hub to build communities of interest and unparalleled privacy and security features. Most importantly, UW Math has created a global community of alumni who continue to engage with their alma mater and each other.