Entrepreneurship is growing in importance to the Canadian economy. Students are becoming increasingly interested in pursuing their own entrepreneurial dreams and schools are listening; student enthusiasm is being fuelled with growing opportunities to explore entrepreneurship at Canadian universities. Programs, degrees, awards and learning centres are being developed across the country for students interested in turning their ideas into full-fledged business plans.
Listed below is a just a snapshot of how Ontario schools bringing an entrepreneurial edge to their educational offerings.
Entrepreneurship and innovation are at the forefront of learning at Ryerson. In addition to the DMZ, there are now several other zones that support entrepreneurship and experiential learning, — including the Fashion Zone, the Design Fabrication Zone, the Transmedia Zone, and the Centre for Urban Energy — forming a network for collaboration on campus.
Ryerson’s Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science (FEAS) just created a new program for their students called Optional Specialization in Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OSEIE). This add-on to the regular curriculum allows undergraduate engineering students to learn business and entrepreneurship theory and skills, and teaches them the basics of launching a startup.
The Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition (QEC) is the largest international undergraduate business plan competition in Canada and one of the best in the world. This past January marked the 25th anniversary for the competition, which has received business plan submissions from students from all over the world, including Australia, China, India, Portugal, Sweden and South Africa.
The QEC invites students from around the world to submit business plans that they would like to see come to fruition. Eighteen teams are selected to attend the final weekend in Kingston to network, collaborate, and present their ideas to leading business professionals serving as judges. The QEC presents $25,000 in cash prizes to the winning teams.
University of Toronto
The Hatchery at the University of Toronto looks for students with a business plan that they want to develop and launch. Teams that participate in the Hatchery are matched with a mentor and resources to turn their ideas into realities. The program also offers members guest speaker sessions throughout the year and provides them with opportunities to find summer fellowships to continue their entrepreneurial education.
University of Waterloo
For the last 22 years, Maclean’s has credited the University of Waterloo with being Canada’s top university for innovation. The school opened the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre within the Faculty of Engineering to support Waterloo students’ entrepreneurial aspirations. It offers undergraduate students courses in entrepreneurship and co-op positions, as well as a Master of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology.
Waterloo is also home to Velocity, a community of the university’s brightest students interested in developing their business ventures in a collaborative environment. It launched in 2008 and offers work space, a residence, funding opportunities and mentorship.
Ontario’s premier art and design school encourages student-level entrepreneurship through its Imagination Catalyst, an incubator and accelerator that supports participants’ entrepreneurial efforts. Students (alumni included) are given working space, resources and mentorship. It’s a great way for students to commercialize their innovations, as well as potentially find design-focused employment within the tech, startup and business worlds.
For a more in-depth look at what other schools across the province are offering, click here to read the Council of Ontario Universities’ fall 2013 report on entrepreneurship at Ontario’s universities.
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