TORONTO, Feb. 20, 2014 — Ryerson University today announced the creation of eight fellowships providing student entrepreneurs from leading South African universities an opportunity to develop their businesses at one of Ryerson’s incubators, including the renowned Digital Media Zone (DMZ).
Within the incubators, or zones as they are called, the entrepreneurs will receive mentorship, business development advice and gain valuable international experience. The fellowships will be offered to student entrepreneurs at four universities: three from the University of Witwatersrand, two from the University of Johannesburg, two from Stellenbosch University and one from the University of Venda.
Ryerson University President and Vice-Chancellor Sheldon Levy made the announcement at the University of Witwatersrand as part of a multi-day tour of South Africa where he is meeting with government and university officials. “The future of the global economy is in the hands of our young people,” said Levy. “Ryerson is proud to partner with South African universities in promoting entrepreneurial innovation and great ideas.”
Professor Adam Habib, Wits University Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said collaborations with universities such as Ryerson are of the utmost importance for the development of future entrepreneurs and leaders on the African continent. “Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the social and economic development of South Africa and Africa. It is imperative for higher education institutions to play their part in nurturing, training and developing future entrepreneurs and we welcome the three Ryerson fellowships for aspiring entrepreneurs.”
As part of the fellowships at Ryerson, the South African entrepreneurs will be provided with transportation, accommodation and a three-to-four-month placement at a Ryerson zone where they will receive office space, mentorship, networking and collaboration opportunities other startup companies. Each participating university will provide a short list of applicants for the fellowships, based on video pitches and a business plan, with the final candidates chosen by a zone steering committee. Ryerson University has previously collaborated in India, Israel and China to build entrepreneurial bridges. In 2012 seven students from universities in India and three from universities in Israel grew their companies within the DMZ. In 2013, the DMZ hosted four Chinese university students. That same year, Ryerson, along with its for-profit arm Ryerson Futures, and the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute Ltd. (BSEI), partnered to create BIL-Ryerson DMZ India, for entrepreneurs to fast-track their startups.
Ryerson has a number of incubators including the Centre for Urban Energy, Fashion Zone, Design Fabrication Zone as well as the DMZ. Opened in 2010, the DMZ is one of Canada’s largest incubators and multidisciplinary co-working spaces for young entrepreneurs. Infused with the energy and resources of downtown Toronto, this hub of innovation, collaboration and commercialization is home to both startups and industry solution-providers. The DMZ leads the way in experiential learning and business success by creating a unique ecosystem of education and entrepreneurship. Emerging leaders fast-track their product launches and grow their companies in this supportive community by connecting with mentors, customers and each other. Since its launch, the DMZ has stimulated Canada’s digital economy by incubating and accelerating 126 startups, and creating and fostering nearly 1,000 jobs. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca/dmz.
Ryerson University is expanding its presence in South Africa. Earlier this month Stellenbosch University announced that Ryerson Professor Gideon Wolfaardt would be the first research professor to hold its new ERWAT Chair in Wastewater Management. The focus of the new chair is on scientific and technical advances in wastewater management, water quality, water use and demand as well as fostering partnerships to improve the water research and management skills of scientists, engineers and technical personnel.
The University of the Witwatersrand, or Wits as it is known, is one of Africa’s premier research universities, striving to be innovative, where boundaries of knowledge are pushed and where the focus is on sustaining globally competitive standards of excellence in learning, teaching and research. Wits runs a number of programmes aimed at identifying young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds but who have strong academic potential. The goal is to increase their academic, social and psychological preparation for admission to and success at Wits or other South African universities. 91 Rhodes Scholars have originated from Wits while 13 Witsies have been awarded prestigious National Orders by the President for their continuing contribution to science, art and medicine in the country. Wits has produced four Nobel Prize laureates – Nelson Mandela (Peace), Aaron Klug (Chemistry), Sydney Brenner (Medicine) and Nadine Gordimer (Literature).
Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 38,000 students, including 2,300 master’s and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 155,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada’s leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca.