Billions of dollars in taxpayer funded research equipment sits idle in university and college labs across Canada and the world. Simultaneously, many researchers and businesses are eager to utilize these resources and form new collaborations.
QReserve is a search engine and management platform for research equipment, services and scientists, that integrates with university and college websites. We connect researchers and industry with labs and scientists who have equipment and expertise they need while giving administrators tools to track campus resources. QReserve campuses better utilize existing resources, generate revenue from new users, and make informed purchasing decisions.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COMPANY?
QReserve is a spin-out of McMaster University’s Biointerfaces Institute, a large research facility housing millions of dollars worth of equipment and world-leading expert scientists. While trying to promote our equipment and services to both McMaster and external users, we realized that it would be incredibly valuable to have a centralized database of resources available on a campus where users could easily search and find what they needed. We knew there were people who needed what we had, they just didn’t know where to find it! People from other research institutions were also interested in our facilities so we designed QReserve to connect campuses together and help people find equipment nearby or far away. We built QReserve to help researchers find the tools they need while helping labs promote their tools and expertise.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
Working at QReserve requires combining a huge array of skills that ensures you’re never bored. One hour could be spent programming a new feature, the next hour researching the use cases for a diffractometer, and the next hour writing a sales pitch email. It is also incredibly satisfying to witness researchers connect through our platform and know that research is being performed that was facilitated, in part, by our efforts.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?
Introducing a new product into the academic market can be a long and strenuous process requiring extensive networking to reach the correct individuals, a long sales cycle, and handling a variety of policies across different institutions. Patience and perseverance is required!
HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
Quantitatively we measure the number of resources we have in our system for researchers to find and the number of researchers utilizing our platform to find them. Qualitatively, we track the feedback from our users very carefully and are continuously encouraged by positive recognition and gratitude for providing a platform that will make concrete improvements to the lives of researchers and university administrators.
WHAT IS THE BEST RECOGNITION YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
We were honoured to receive an OCE SmartStart Seed Fund award this past August for $24,896 to support us in growing QReserve and rolling out to institutions across Ontario.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
We are currently in the initial rollout stage and have a series of meetings and demonstrations lined up to promote QReserve to universities and colleges throughout Ontario. As our user base grows, we plan to grow our team over the next year and create an on-site presence at university and college campuses through a campus ambassador program. Beyond that we plan to build on our success in Ontario to spread across Canada and to provide commercial research companies with a platform for promoting their services to academic and industrial users in Canada and the world.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS OR STUDENTS STUDYING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN YOUR FIELD?
Creating a software product requires more than expertise in software development. Ultimately you are delivering a service and your software acts as your tool to deliver that service. It is important to stay focused on delivering your service and not simply on software features. Early and extensive user feedback is vital for crafting your service to fit the needs of your users. When working within the academic space, it’s important to grow your network in order to be introduced to the right people and to have patience as your key individuals are very busy!
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
QReserve is the only publicly accessible centralized platform for finding research equipment and experts in Canada, regardless of their affiliation or funding source. Unlike laboratory management platforms that focus on the management of research equipment within a single facility, QReserve is an open-access system designed to promote research equipment and expertise to all researchers and industry users. We are also focused on providing a complete service for helping facilities catalogue their resources through our campus ambassador program that will hire and train students to help inventory the vast quantity of existing resources a campus contains.
WHY IS HAMILTON THE HOME FOR YOUR COMPANY?
QReserve was born at McMaster University in Hamilton and we are ideally situated for rolling out our platform across Ontario with a host of major universities and colleges within a couple of hours drive! Innovation Factory and The Forge have also been vital for our company to build and become market ready by providing expert advice and a friendly space to work.
HOW CAN WE CONNECT WITH YOU?