VanAir Design: A Product Development and Commercialization Overview

Speaker: James Higgins, BASc, Mechanical Engineering, SBSP (Sustainable Building Science Program) Trainee, The University of British Columbia

Location: Policy Labs, CIRS building, 2260 West Mall

Date: December 11th, 2014 1-2 PM


James will be speaking about the experience of starting a company in the building/development marketplace, as well as the process of taking a product from conceptualization to commercialization. The talk will be centered on the work of his company VanAir Design, and will touch on manufacturing wood products, lab and in situ research work, and business start-up considerations. VanAir was incorporated in May 2013 to commercialize a ventilating door product that was developed in an engineering design/entrepreneurship class at UBC (New Venture Design). UBC has been a substantial resource in developing this company and product since then. With the help of a Washington State manufacturing partner, the product is now approaching the launch and commercialization phase. The continued development of new VanAir products will also be discussed.



James Higgins is a UBC Mechanical Engineering graduate and former SBSP trainee. As a student of Dr. Murray Hodgson, his studies were focused on building acoustics and building science in general, as well as business and entrepreneurship. Since graduating in May 2013, James has started VanAir Design with his business partner Vick Yau. VanAir is a business that develops innovative architectural products, with a focus on ventilation and acoustics.As a musician, James’s interest in sound and room acoustics grew through the experience of performing and rehearsing in many different spaces. Primarily through his work with VanAir, he is developing a vocation around wood product design and manufacturing. In addition to VanAir, he is currently starting to work on a consulting project for the design and construction of a local recording studio, and creating custom furniture pieces for friends.