Thursday, November 3, 2022 | Daily Bulletin

Green Shield Canada benefits information sessions being offered this month

A message from Human Resources.

On January 1, 2023, the University’s benefit provider for extended health and dental benefits is changing from Canada Life to Green Shield Canada.  

To support the forthcoming change, Human Resources is hosting several information sessions with Green Shield, both in-person and virtual, at the University. This information session will provide you with an overview of Green Shield Canada’s customer services and claim submission processes. In addition, you will have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the change, as well as essential action items that plan members—you as well as your covered spouse and/or dependents—must complete, or be aware of, to support this change.

Sessions listed below are available to register at the project website. Spaces are limited. A recording of the virtual session will be made available on the project website for those unable to attend.

Date:

Times:

Location:

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

12:00 noon – 1 p.m.

East Campus 5 – Room 1111

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Virtually hosted

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Davis Centre – Room 1302

Thursday, November 17, 2022

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

East Campus 5 – Room 1111

Thursday, November 17, 2022

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

East Campus 5 – Room 1111

To register, please visit the project website: https://uwaterloo.ca/human-resources/GSCI.

If you are unfamiliar with East Campus 5 (EC5), you should explore the location on the official UWaterloo online map. Metered parking is available outside East Campus 1 (EC1) and East Campus 2 (EC2).  

Please contact [email protected] or call 519-888-4567 ext. 45935 if you have any questions about this message.

Math alumnus helps launch Entrepreneurship Fund

Student design project display fair in the David Centre.

By Robin Morden. This article was originally published in the Math E-Ties alumni newsletter.

The Faculty of Mathematics has been a home to bold and visionary creators since day one.

In 1979, Wes Graham and Ian McPhee launched WatCom (now Sybase), the University’s first startup. In doing so, they started an entrepreneurial tradition in the Faculty that remains strong today. Over 500 start-ups have their origins in the Faculty of Mathematics, including industry leaders like OpenText, Maplesoft, RapidNovor and Faire.

This number could increase dramatically in the years ahead thanks to another Waterloo innovator, Ian MacKinnon (BMath ’06, MMath ’08), co-founder and CTO of Later.com. MacKinnon recently made a $100,000 gift to help launch a new Math Entrepreneurship Fund.

The Fund will empower students by creating entrepreneurship programs and supports, including pitch competitions, hackathons, conferences and one-on-one mentorship with industry leaders. MacKinnon hopes the Fund will “encourage more math students to consider entrepreneurship as a career path.”

Founding a community for entrepreneurs

MacKinnon says the Fund “spoke to a problem” he had as an undergrad. When he first came to the University in 2001, he had dreams of launching his own company. But, at that time, Waterloo had little in the way of entrepreneurship programming to nurture and guide his passion.

He found other outlets for his entrepreneurial side. He “wrapped” himself in the University experience, taking on numerous volunteer roles in the Faculty of Mathematics community. As a fourth-year student, he served as an orientation director, running activities for the incoming group of freshmen. Then, during his MMath, he became president of the Graduate Student Association.

These experiences allowed him to develop leadership and teamwork skills that proved perfect complements to the technical skills he developed through coursework.

“A lot of people don’t realize how useful the soft skills are,” says MacKinnon. “As a developer, you don’t actually need soft skills that much early in your career. But as you get further along, you realize that getting a group of people aligned on a task, for example, is invaluable.”

As helpful as these experiences were, MacKinnon truly found his footing as an entrepreneur when he joined the Launch Academy Incubator in Vancouver in 2014 to develop Later.com. The incubator’s mentorship and networking support was crucial to the business’s success. Today, Later.com is a leading social media management platform with over 7 million customers.

MacKinnon hopes the Fund will establish a similarly vibrant and supportive environment for student entrepreneurs within the Faculty of Mathematics.

“There’s a lot in the startup world that seems very simple once you already know it, but you need someone to tell it to you,” MacKinnon notes. “Entrepreneurs really require a community to get started and there’s no reason these kinds of communities couldn’t be at the universities.”

The next big thing starts here

MacKinnon believes promoting entrepreneurship among the student population is incredibly important. He points out that when you compare the top ten tech companies from twenty years ago to the top ten today, there is surprisingly little overlap. This suggests that the companies that will shape tomorrow don’t yet exist—they are no more than ideas in the minds of our students and need to be nurtured and developed.

“In the rapidly evolving world, the next big thing hasn’t been started yet,” says MacKinnon. “Students need to know that they can play a part in making it happen. We’re always progressing as a society and we need fresh ideas, fresh ventures, fresh companies.”

He adds: “I’m just really excited to see what kind of hackathons, prizes, capstone projects and conferences happen as a result of this fund.”

Daily movie theatre ticket sales can predict stock market returns

Customers at a movie theatre concession stand.

This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

Daily box office earnings can accurately predict stock market returns, according to a new study.

Traditionally quarterly and monthly consumption data is used to predict stock market performance. But using box office earnings – a measure that captures consumption on a more frequent basis – offers more timely and relevant data for decision-makers in the financial markets.

“U.S. box office earnings carry value relevant information for investors. We show that box office earnings can predict returns up to five days,” said Dr. Seda Oz, a professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance. “Our research provides evidence that daily consumption carries new, timelier and relevant information for stock markets.”

Oz and co-author Steve Fortin, a professor at Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance, test the hypothesis that a daily consumption variable – box office earnings – has implications for the stock market. Based on data available from 1997 to 2019, the authors found that daily measures predict future aggregate stock market returns significantly and positively for up to six days using the Center for Research in Security Prices value-weighted market excess return and for up to five days using the Standard and Poor’s 500 market return. The results demonstrate that box office earnings create upward pressure on stock prices for at least up to five days.

“We interpret box office earnings as early signs of spending,” said Oz. “Our evidence may represent a profitable market timing strategy that investors could potentially exploit.”

The link between money spent on movie theatre tickets and market returns suggests that box office earnings capture consumption among investors and can be used to create potentially profitable trading strategies. This is the first study exploiting daily consumption data in a stock market context.

The study authored by Oz and Fortin was recently published in the journal Financial Management.

Event explains what happens when memes go to war against Russia

University 4 Ukraine banner featuring speaker Christian Borys.

A message from the Faculty of Arts.

The University community is invited to a special event featuring Christian Borys, journalist, entrepreneur, and founder of Saint Javelin, which supports Ukrainians affected by Russia’s war-making through the sale of memes-based merchandise. Part of University for Ukraine (#U4U) fundraising and awareness initiative, the event is hosted by professors Alexander Lanoszka (Political Science) and Serhiy Yarusevych (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering).

Despite extraordinarily hardship and losses paid by Ukraine over the past several months, its military resistance has been fierce, and Ukrainian Armed Forces have been steadily liberating territory seized by Russia in the opening weeks of the conflict. In the face of staggering odds and human suffering, the people of Ukraine turned to humour, with memes supporting Ukrainian defenders and mocking Russian military performance and Kremlin narratives flourishing on social media.

The November 8 event, When Memes Go to War Against Russia: A Conversation with Christian Borys of Saint Javelin, will explore humour in wartime and the role that memes can play in disinformation and psychological warfare.

Christian Borys founded Saint Javelin out of Toronto just eight days before Russia launched its massive invasion against Ukraine. The initiative started with a modest goal of raising $500, and proved to be an overwhelming success story, raising over $1M from sales to support Ukrainian victims of war. Christian Borys’ work with Saint Javelin has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the CBC, and other outlets around the world.

University for Ukraine (#U4U) supports humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine through established Canadian charities with dedicated programs and resources on the ground. Tax-deductible charitable donations can be made through the dedicated U4U online platform.

When Memes Go to War Against Russia: A Conversation with Christian Borys of Saint Javelin is on Tuesday, November 8, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in HH 1104 (SAF wing) and via livestream. Please register.

Students set to break ground on affordable, net-zero house

This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

A student design team at the University of Waterloo is scheduled to begin work soon on a 130-year-old house in Kitchener that it is redesigning and retrofitting to become a net-zero, energy-efficient home for an Indigenous family.

The project, undertaken in partnership with the Kitchener-Waterloo Urban Native Wigwam Project (KWUNWP), is student team Warrior Home’s entry in a high-profile competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The two-year Solar Decathlon Build Challenge is slated to culminate in the spring of 2023 with judging of completed energy-efficient homes by student teams from universities in countries including the U.S., Canada, India and Australia.

The Waterloo team, which is primarily comprised of students in engineering programs, will mark an important milestone on its way to that event with a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 7 at the building site at 32 Mill Street in the Victoria Park neighbourhood of Kitchener at 4 p.m.

Retrofitting the two-storey house, which was built in the 1890s, is expected to cost $150,000. It has been vacant for several years since Waterloo Region donated it to KWUNWP, an Indigenous non-profit group, as part of an affordable housing initiative.

The last Warrior Home project involved the construction of a net-zero bungalow for an Indigenous family on a reserve in the Owen Sound area north of Waterloo. It took second place in the 2021 finals of the competition.

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