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Conference promises to bring students together with business leaders

photo courtesy of Milan Topolovec (pictured)

Local tech startups will have an opportunity to meet with global investors, advisors, and panellists at a business networking event to be held at Algonquin College.

On Sept. 9-10 At the event called Axis Ottawa 2014, students and other local entrepreneurs will be able to present their startups to more than 150 Canadian and international delegates, including companies like SanDisk, Motorola, and IBM.

The event is organized by Axis Innovation, an international company that connects startups with investors, and Steve Tover from Stage 2 Partners.

Ottawa was selected because of its creative economy, its established place in the technology industry, and its strong entrepreneurial culture, said Axis communications manager Melis Abuaf.

According to a 2012 Industry Canada report, 48 per cent of Canada’s total workforce was employed by 1 million small businesses in 2011. These small businesses are also responsible for 25 per cent of total exports, and 30 per cent of the total GDP.

The University of Ottawa sponsored Axis Ottawa as part of its initiative—along with events like Entrepreneurship Week, the on-campus Entrepreneurship Hub, and the recent opening of the Business Law Clinic—to support students who create their own businesses.

U of O president Allan Rock said in a press release that supporting entrepreneurial students is essential, and that the university “remains fully committed to ensuring that its students receive first class training as well as all the resources necessary to go from ideas to action and from the classroom to their business.”

Six Ottawa-based business and financial advisors will attend, including Milan Topolovec, the founder, president, and CEO of TK Financial.

Topolovec played for the Gee-Gees football team in 1978–79 and graduated from the Faculty of Arts in 1985.

He plans to speak about estate and insurance planning for corporate clients.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for business to get funded,” he said, which will hopefully lead to “some big growth in Ottawa.”

Topolovec said networking events are vital to the success of any business. “I advise all grads to create their own business with structure and get mentors as well as advisory teams,” he said.

“When I started my career and business later, I had no mentor and learned things the hard way.”

But he warns current students not to start a business just for the sake of creating a job.

“It has to be a passion and desire to create or give something to the world.”

Tickets can be purchased at or at the event.