A Summer of 3D Printing Animal Hearts

Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Written by Mairin Scannell

How Two OVC Veterinarian Students Turned into Entrepreneurs
Left to Right: Adam Quinlan, Juan Orjuela

How Two OVC Veterinarian Students Turned into Entrepreneurs!

In March 2018, a veterinary surgical oncologist from the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph used 3D-printing technology to replace the majority of a dog's cancer-ridden skull. It was a novel procedure that marked a major advancement in veterinary medicine.  

Adam and Juan are two 2nd year veterinarian students, studying at the University of Guelph, who spent their summer as researchers working with Dr. Oblak. On their first day they were given a clear task – become 3D printing experts.This life changing innovative technology was used by Dr. Michelle Oblak.  Even though she believed that the use of this technology for skull reconstruction was one of the first of its kind in a dog in North America, she has a dream - that this is something that could be more widely available.  With the help from the John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (Wood Centre), John Philips, Senior Design Engineer at the Haptic lab and two apssionate research students, Adam Quinlan and Juan Orjuela, Dr. Oblak's dream is becoming closer to reality.

Four months, three failed print jobs, two 3D printed hearts and a one-thousand-dollar grant, that task has now turned into a new reality for Adam and Juan. They have become entrepreneurs.

Adam and Juan are creating Vet-IC, which is a collaborative network of student innovators who want to enhance veterinary medicine.   

“Our mission is to empower students and faculty to be innovative leaders in veterinary medicine. We will inspire the implementation of new technologies into the classroom, with a focus on 3D printing,” explains Adam. “Our goal is to develop anatomical and procedural models that students can use to apply what they’ve learned in class.”

Their journey to becoming entrepreneurs started off as a simple e-mail inquiring about the MakerSpace at the Wood Centre – the innovation and entrepreneurship hub on campus. That e-mail turned into attending weekly 3D printing workshops, attending a Wood Centre Startup Social (where they pitched their business idea and received positive feedback), receiving mentorship from the hub services incubator manager, and finally, applying to the Wood Centre’s Hub Incubator program.

The Hub Incubator Program has been in operation since 2014 and has supported the commercialization of 64 new venture creations. The Hub provides University of Guelph students and alumni with funding, mentorship and access to advisory services to help bring an idea  to life!

“It was intimidating applying for a program in the business school because I felt like I had no business background,” said Adam Quinlan. “But the staff at the Wood Centre had so much belief in us and provided so much support for us through the entire process.”

A week after they applied, they received the good news that they were officially accepted into the Hub Incubator Program.

For Hub Services Incubator Manager Tyler Zemlak, it was an easy decision. “Adam and Juan had an innovative idea and a clear target market. Along with their passion and dedication they were a clear choice to be a part of our Hub Start Program.”

Ultimately, Adam and Juan have the dream of working closely alongside Dr. Oblak to create a brighter, more innovative future in veterinary health. 

“Better animal health means better human health,” concluded Juan. “Improving our health means working in collaboration with multiple disciplines and working locally, nationally, and globally. We are thrilled to be working with the John F. Wood Centre as we continue to pursue our dream.”

Do you have an idea that you want to bring to life?

Don’t wait, send us an e-mail and we can help you get started on bringing it to life!  https://www.uoguelph.ca/johnfwoodcentre/contact-us

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