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U of O among schools that will expand business programs

Photo: Marta Kierkus

The Government of Ontario will make a $2 million investment in Ottawa’s post-secondary schools in order to support student entrepreneurship programs, Minister Reza Moridi announced Oct. 3.

The funding comes from the province’s Campus-Linked Accelerator (CLA) program and will support the Capital Entrepreneurs program, which combines initiatives at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and Algonquin College.

The provincial government plans to invest $295 million over two years, with the hope of helping 30,000 young people find jobs. The province has 10 different CLAs spread across Ontario, designed to help students with ideas and ambition create new jobs.

“Their innovative spirit will build Ontario’s future,” Moridi, minister of training, colleges and universities, said in a statement.

The three schools submitted a proposal last year, according to Joe Irvine, the U of O’s director of technology transfer and business enterprise. The investment will allow the university to expand the reach of its pre-existing entrepreneurial programs, he said.

“The biggest impact I think you will see is a number of students that get access to entrepreneurship, and the number of student teams that progress through forming a company,” said Irvine.

The university will get $750,000 of the investment, which will go toward Startup Garage and the new Entrepreneurship Hub, according to Luc Lalande, director of the E-Hub.

The E-Hub, which launched in June, looks “to inspire and support students in developing an entrepreneurial identity,” according to its mission statement. Its first major project, a paid internship program for students, will launch in the next month. The program is open all U of O students not just those enrolled in the Telfer School of Management.

“These same students who would be working at Loblaws for 10 bucks an hour can get a job at the (E-Hub) part-time as a paid intern and learn some really valuable skills,” said Lalande.

Meanwhile, Startup Garage is a business incubator program that gives young entrepreneurs the resources, space, and mentorship necessary to accelerate their businesses. The investment allows Startup Garage to open up to all applicants aged 18-29, as opposed to solely U of O students.

Phil Chiasson, a U of O environmental studies student who created Printearth, a company that manufactures biodegradable plastic filaments for 3D printers, launched his business when he began his term at Startup Garage this summer.

“It really helped propel my business,” said Chiasson, adding that it was a great place to be as a young company, because of the resources that were readily available.

It’s all part of a push that has resulted in an increase in funding and attention to entrepreneurial education over the last few years. Entrepreneurs in residence (EiR) are an increasingly common sight on Canadian campuses.

Business executive, lawyer, and entrepreneur, Andrew Foti is Algonquin College’s EiR who is available weekly to consult with students on their business ambitions. “With these resources, we can engage more students and youth in hands-on entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen.

Invest Ottawa will also benefit from the financial boost.

At Carleton University the money will go toward further developing their own entrepreneurial programs, for example Lead to Win and Carleton Entrepreneurs. Carleton alumnus, Wes Nicol recently donated $10 million to his alma mater to expand the Sprott School of Business.

“It will provide support to launch and grow youth-led businesses,” said Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. “We expect… more jobs for youth and a more competitive Ontario.”

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