Ryerson University Opens Digital Media Zone, Student Centre for Innovation
and Entrepreneurship

First Project Out of the DMZ Now Up and Running: TeamSave.com

TORONTO, April 7 /CNW/ - Ryerson's new Digital Media Zone (DMZ), officially opened today, is providing Ryerson University students with the opportunity to develop their digitally based ideas into consumer products with help from mentors and industry. The facility, located at 10 Dundas East, is a fully wired, multidisciplinary environment with 24-hour access for participating students. The ultimate goal of this largely student-led initiative is to venture beyond R&D to marketable applications with students at the helm, running their own businesses. To celebrate the opening, the first product out of the Digital Media Zone, TeamSave.com, was launched today.

"Ultimately this is about education, about young people learning how to be entrepreneurs," said Sheldon Levy, President, Ryerson University. "Students and young people are major contributors to the innovation agenda, and their ideas and energy are incredible. At a university, pure research is essential, but so is encouraging and showcasing emerging talent and connecting students and young alumni to private and public sector industry. Our goal is to keep talent and industry in Canada, rather than training our young people to work in Silicon Valley. The DMZ will be a driver in creating a digital industry hub right here in downtown Toronto."

Set against the backdrop of Canada's largest digital showroom, Yonge Dundas Square, Ryerson students come to the DMZ to connect, collaborate and create. Although the flexible loft space, designed by Ryerson Interior Design students, provides the necessary physical and technological infrastructure, the real emphasis is on entrepreneurship and teaching young people how to get their ideas to market.

"The Digital Media Zone is about creating a place where young people can have the opportunity to collaborate with other innovators, mentors and industry and gain the confidence and expertise they need to launch their own businesses," said Valerie Fox, Director of the Ryerson Digital Media Zone. "They already have the marketable ideas; we just give them the environment and tools to execute them successfully."

Through Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Ryerson, DMZ participants get entrepreneurial counselling and also learn how and where to apply for funding, an essential step in getting their ideas out the door. The whole DMZ process is integrated with StartMeUp Ryerson, a SIFE program which supports and nurtures student-led startups. Ideas make their way into the DMZ by way of the StartMeUp idea consultation and pitch session. SIFE's administrative role is one element of the "for students, by students" strategy that sets the DMZ apart.

The space is run by a steering committee which includes SIFE President and undergraduate student in the Ted Rogers School of Business Management, Rohan Sharma; postdoctoral student in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Hossein Rahnama; and recent graduate from the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management, Chris Nguyen.

Both Hossein and Chris are also actively pursuing their own projects in the DMZ. Hossein's project, the Paris Metro Travel Assistant, is a mobile application designed to help passengers with disabilities navigate their way while in the Metro system. Commuters using the application will have a wealth of information at their fingertips as their mobile phones continually adapt to their changing environment and track their progress from station to station. The software will be rolling out in Paris in late May.

Chris, already an entrepreneur (having conceived and realized a successful business, JobLoft.com, while still a student at Ryerson), launched the first project out of the DMZ this morning. TeamSave.com (Together Everyone Achieves More - TEAM) is an online social buying concept that offers volume sales discounts. Groups large enough to take advantage of these discounts are mobilized through the website using social media 'sharing' applications. Each deal is limited to a 24-hour time frame, creating an immediate sense of urgency which guarantees retailers a high volume of sales and a cost-effective stream of new customers. The service is now up and running, offering new deals every day.

"The Digital Media Zone is about coming up with great ideas, but taking it a step further and executing those ideas to create amazing businesses," said Chris. "The projects created within the DMZ will really shape the Canadian technology landscape, but most importantly, the global business landscape."

There are more than 25 active projects in Ryerson's Digital Media Zone. Examples of other projects currently under development include:

    
    -   Interactive projected ads that respond to the sweep of your shoe or
        your hand, much like a touch screen but without actual contact
        (Student leader: Jonathan Ingham, Master's student in Media
        Production);
    -   3D/Virtual Reality experience, with a special Haptic Feedback Glove
        that allows you to "feel" the sensation of contact when you reach out
        and "touch" virtual objects (Student leader: Adrian Bulzacki, PhD
        student in Electrical and Computer Engineering);
    -   Burstn, a real-time image sharing platform that uses the context of
        photos in ways that are the most meaningful to the sender and the
        receiver (Student leaders: Josh Davey, Ted Rogers School of
        Information and Technology Management, and Dave Senior, recent Ted
        Rogers School of Business Management grad in Entrepreneurship).
    

"As an arts-based student, the Digital Media Zone is the only place I know where I can meet and share concepts with students from computer science or computer engineering," said Jonathan Ingham, president of his own interactive marketing company, Phosphorus Media Inc. "The DMZ is also really convenient since my work requires a considerable amount of equipment. I no longer have to fight for studio time and waste time setting up and tearing down. The convenience factor is good, but the connections the DMZ facilitates are indispensable."

For further information about the Digital Media Zone go to: www.ryerson.ca/dmz

Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers close to 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to 28,000 students, including 2,000 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 tenured and tenure-track faculty and staff, and more than 130,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca

SOURCE Ryerson University

For further information: For further information: MEDIA CONTACT: Heather Kearney, Public Affairs, Ryerson University, Office: (416) 979-5000 x 4282, hkearney@ryerson.ca


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