Inspired Projects: A Promising Future Ahead!

On March 25th, 2015, over 100 senior students from Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University hosted their annual Business Plan Expo featuring 25 new business ideas. These ideas ranged from on-demand customizable clothing, to AR applications for enhancing children’s books, to leveraging tagged photos posted to Instagram into printed products, and co-working spaces catered specifically to freelance graphic designers.

There was excitement in the air and the expo was well attended by fellow students, faculty, and members of industry. Jim Downham, President & CEO of the Packaging Association of Canada, had this to say: “I am always impressed by the students, but I was especially impressed at this event. The creativity of the students’ displays was eye catching. The branding was very well done and the ideas were clever!”

Below are three of the 25 plans that take printing beyond simple ink on paper and showcase highly innovative thinking.



Foldit transforms corrugated board into a variety of functional furniture pieces with or without customizable graphics printed directly on the board. Their goal is to provide sustainable and portable options to young adults seeking to fill empty spaces with furniture that is both funky and cost effective. This includes post-secondary students and recent graduates looking to find temporary, lightweight furniture that can be sustainably disposed of when it’s no longer needed. The team’s plan is to operate as an e-commerce site and use digital cutting technology for accuracy and efficiency. During the expo, the team had an impressive working prototype of a table constructed of corrugated board that was sturdy enough to hold multiple thick textbooks (including the very heavy The Handbook of Print Media!). The Foldit team shares a strong interest in packaging and it will be exciting to see where the future takes them.



Spark leverages the power of conductive ink with the promise to leave the current selection of bulky electronic greeting cards in the dust. The team plans to screen print conductive ink onto their cards to produce more cost effective and slimmer products that incorporate interactive, light-up elements. Spark products are catered to young adults with an interest in art and design who are willing to pay a premium price for beautifully designed, high-tech cards. Spark will exist as an e-commerce business, as well as a wholesaler of their products to boutique retailers. Spark intends to provide the value-added service of including a printed “handwritten” personalized message from the sender to add a final human touch.


Stea!th helps their event marketing customers easily visualize tradeshow floor plans through their interactive 3D technology, powered by CAD software and an augmented reality application. By placing a “trigger image” on the floor of the space they wish to visualize, the team uses smartphones or tablets to display the design of the tradeshow booth in real time. They have the ability to walk 360 degrees around the space in order to see the booth at all angles. The team can make changes on the fly based on customer requests and demonstrate the impact of these changes in real time. The end result is a tradeshow booth that is expertly planned and visually conceptualized long before any printed materials for the space need to be purchased. Stea!th team members have experience in a variety of marketing roles (including event marketing for a multinational firm) and are solving a problem that they have experienced first-hand. At the expo, the team had an impressive working demonstration of their technology that could quickly be brought from prototype into reality.

Many of the ideas presented at the expo show great promise for the future of our industry. Whether any of these ideas transpire into more than hypothetical business plans is ultimately not important. What’s significant is the exceptional talent behind the plans and the exciting potential for our industry. We have a promising future ahead!


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.