UTSC grad named to The Next 36 looks to help others through innovation

Pippa Wysong and Don Campbell

UTSC graduate Mingyuan “Ming” Li wants to combine his knowledge of biology with a knack for innovation to improve the quality of life of others. 

Li is one of 11 U of T students named to The Next 36 – a program designed to train Canada’s next generation of innovators and business leaders.

"I applied to The Next 36 because I wanted to make a positive impact in the world, and I believe entrepreneurship is one way to do it," says Li, a human biology major who graduated from UTSC this year. "Entrepreneurship is an opportunity for me to bring my innovations to the world, and in so doing, I hope that it will improve the quality of life of others."

Those selected for the program get to develop their unique ideas with help from Canadian business leaders. The program also provides those selected with up to $95,000 in seed investment for new ventures.

Now researching cystic fibrosis at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Li will join teammates from U of T engineering and McGill University's commerce program to develop an app for parents of small children.

"We would use existing devices such as smartphone or wearable technology to help them keep track of the whereabouts of the child," says Li. "Our app can also extend to ensure the safety of the elderly and those with neurodegenerative diseases – to ensure that they are always safe and at a location where they can be protected."

Li, the only non-engineering U of T student to make The Next 36 list, credits the opportunities at UTSC to develop innovative solutions to real-world issues for his early entrepreneurial success. He also acknowledges the mentorship he received while working in UTSC Professor Herbert Kronzucker’s lab as an undergraduate.

“Professor Kronzucker encouraged me to widen my perspective and to actively identify and solve problems through innovation,” says Li. “He was crucial to my personal and professional development.”