Research and innovation activities on Ontario’s campuses are helping the province’s students and youth flourish through experiential learning opportunities and support for student entrepreneurship. A number of provincially funded programs have further enriched these supports.
For instance, led by the Ontario Centres of Excellence, the On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEAs) and Campus-Linked Accelerators (CLAs) programs support the initiation and expansion of entrepreneurship activities at Ontario’s universities and colleges. These programs encourage student entrepreneurs and student-led enterprises, integrating these activities with investors, industry, and other stakeholders in the regions where young entrepreneurs have access to the resources and mentorship needed to succeed.
Algoma University's Research and Innovation Hub
Through its Research and Innovation Hub, Algoma University is dedicated to fostering collaborations with local community and industry partners to facilitate experiential learning opportunities for university students.
In particular, a partnership between the university and R&B Cormier Enterprises Inc., a natural resource contracting and consulting firm, provides experiential learning opportunities for geography undergraduate students. Located in Sault Ste. Marie, students receive hands-on experience through summer placements at R&B Cormier—many of whom are hired by the company after graduation.
The mutual partnership also gives R&B Cormier access to state-of-the-art research facilities at Algoma. Previously, the company used the university’s Biosciences and Technology Convergence Centre to conduct high-end remote-sensing work for a forest measuring project with the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve.
McMaster University’s Hack the City
Hack the City at McMaster University is a student-led extracurricular research initiative that provides McMaster students with the opportunity to tackle real-world challenges brought to them by community and industry partners. In its first year, Hack the City engaged with 100 McMaster students who addressed challenges in energy, healthcare, and transportation.
Through this initiative, undergraduate Health Sciences researcher David Lee developed Catalytics Inc., a start-up that works with hospitals to capture patient information and reduce delays in providing personalized care through predictive analytics. Partnering with IBM and Hamilton Health Sciences, Catalytics Inc. currently operates out of the IBM Innovation Space, has a team of four, and is hiring a summer co-op student in health data science.
OCAD University’s Centre for Emerging Artists and Designers
The Centre for Emerging Artists and Designers (CEAD) at OCAD supports the early-career advancement of all students and recent alumni.
Through this centre, the Experiential Learning Program (ELP) offers facilitated learning experiences, a variety of skill-building resources, and meaningful, practical opportunities. Students are encouraged to pursue opportunities that place them in real-world situations offered in partnership with cultural organizations, industry, community service agencies, and creative producers. The ELP facilitates and supports these for-credit learning placements, which largely take the form of work-integrated, service-based, and collaborative opportunities.
In partnership with the Toronto Market Corporation, eight senior photography students exhibited their work at the Union Station Holiday Market, receiving a production honorarium from CEAD in order to professionally mount their work. In tandem with the exhibition, many more students from the photography and publications programs sold prints in a designated retail space with more than 30 vendors and partners, bringing in nearly $3,000 through their entrepreneurial efforts. This opportunity provided students with the experience of exhibiting their work to, and interacting with, a diverse public in one of Canada’s most highly-trafficked commuter spaces.
University of Ottawa’s Entrepreneurship Program
The University of Ottawa’s RBC Co-op Entrepreneurship Program provides significant new opportunities for entrepreneurial co-op students. It allows them to research and test ideas, and learn the myriad skills needed to get a business off the ground and either graduate to running a full-fledged operation, or take part in further incubation programs.
Through this program, software engineering student Daniel Laframboise gained work experience at a local early-stage startup, Welbi. He was able to develop both his technical skills and soft skills, while experiencing the ups and downs unique to an early start-up.
Start-up Garage at the University of Ottawa
Led by the University of Ottawa’s Innovation Support Services, Start-up Garage fosters youth entrepreneurship for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario youth between 18-29. The summer cohort program offers youth-led ventures the opportunity to accelerate their business by working full time over the summer, receiving funding, office space, mentorship, and support.
Founded in 2010, the initiative is a partnership between the university, Gowling WLG, BMO, and Logan Katz LLP. More than 70 firms have enrolled in Start-up Garage.
Spectrafy is one such start-up developed through Start-up Garage based on the research of University of Ottawa’s Master’s student Viktar Tatsiankou, under the supervision of Dr. Karin Hinzer. Tatsiankou developed the SolarSIM products line, which is revolutionizing the way sunlight is measured around the world. These products use advanced analytics to make it easy and affordable for customers to get the solar and atmospheric data they need. Spectrafy is currently working with a range of businesses, including Morgan Solar, Techno Solutions, and Geonica Earth Sciences.
The Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre
To support research and innovation on campus, Queen’s University developed the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC), providing programs, services, and resources to students, researchers, entrepreneurs, and companies to support their innovation and entrepreneurship activities. Local partnerships include the Kingston Economic Development Corporation and the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network.
Through the DDQIC, the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) was developed, offering a valuable opportunity for students to start their own businesses and receive seed funding. The 17-week paid summer internship provides an experiential learning opportunity for Queen’s students with a capacity for creativity, a tolerance for risk, and an interest in entrepreneurship, corporate or social innovation.
Through this initiative, RockMass Technologies was formed—a joint venture between two Queen’s University researchers and three undergraduate students. Researchers Joshua Marshall and Marc Gallant had created a new geological mapping technology, patented through PARTEQ Innovations (a not-for-profit corporation formed to help researchers market their innovations).
Collaborating with the researchers, undergraduate students, Stuart Bourne, Shelby Yee, and Matt Gubasta, formed RockMass through the QICSI, where they licensed the technology and received $30,000 in seed funding to further develop the company. The technology is now being used to improve the safety and efficiency of geological mapping in the mining, civil engineering, and exploration industries.
Master of Entrepreneurship at Queen’s University
The Queen’s University Master of Entrepreneurship & Innovation program is a 12-month full-time program offered in partnership between the Smith School of Business and the Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. The program offers two streams, one for entrepreneurs and one for corporate and organizational innovators where students are placed at a start-up or an innovative organization.
The program is highly experiential and hands-on, enabling students to become effective leaders in entrepreneurial and innovative career pursuits, and giving them access to the facilities necessary to turn their ideas into reality.
Zone learning at Ryerson University
Known as zones, Ryerson University has 10 on-campus incubators throughout its downtown Toronto campus. These incubators act as a gateway to the university for start-ups, talent, and research and industry partners, and provide experiential learning opportunities for Ryerson students. Through these zones, students and the broader community have the chance to solve real-world problems, learn new skills, and gain tangible experience.
Each zone focuses on a specific industry, such as, biomedical, interdisciplinary, fashion, and clean energy. At the zones, students access resources and mentors to help develop their own ideas, or collaborate on someone else’s.
As of April 2017, 320 start-ups have resulted from zone learning at Ryerson. These start-ups have received more than $300 million in seed funding and have created more than 2,200 jobs over the past five years. Industry partners include, Amazon AWS, CCI Bioenergy, Cineplex Odeon, HubSpot, IBM, LexisNexis, Microsoft, and Osler LLP.
Ryerson University electrical engineering graduates, Ahsan ul Alam, Joseph Tam, and Sabbir Ahmed, founded Electrefy through the Centre for Urban Energy (the clean energy zone). The business revolutionizes electric vehicle charging stations with fast-charging technology that recharges a vehicle up to 80 per cent in less than 20 minutes. The students had access to resources and mentorship through the clean energy zone with an advisory board that consisted of industry experts from Alectra Inc., Schneider Electric, and IESO.
Trent Community Research Centre
A separate non-profit corporation to Trent University, the partnership between the university and the Trent Community Research Centre coordinates a service learning program where approximately 40 student research projects are conducted with community partners every year. The students earn an academic credit, while the community partners receive real-world solutions to issues they’re facing. The centre aims to be a catalyst of community change through research, providing students with experiential learning while delivering valuable research to partners.
Currently, eight Trent University students are working on five community-based research projects exploring issues relating to the housing crisis in Peterborough, such as post-incarceration accommodation, and youth respite homes, and generating possible solutions. Other research projects include community food production and accessibility and inclusion at local businesses.
Active Communities at Wilfrid Laurier University
In partnership with Sun Life Financial, Wilfrid Laurier University has launched a community outreach program to improve activity levels and nutrition in youth with Type 2 Diabetes and their caregivers, as a way to prevent and manage their diabetes. The Sun Life Financial Centre for Physically Active Communities engages Laurier undergraduate and graduate students in an experiential learning opportunity, where they deliver the programming and conduct research.
The program is offered free, or at low-cost, to children and youth at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and other chronic conditions in high-priority neighbourhoods such as low-income, immigrant, and Indigenous communities.
York University’s Entrepreneurial Internship
Innovation York is developing a new entrepreneurial internship for undergraduates. As a first step in creating a pan-university internships program, Innovation York has partnered with the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies to develop and deliver a paid internship pilot in the summer of 2018, collaborating with small businesses in the local community. Partners, such as the Markham Museum, LURA Consulting, and Shepherd Group, get access to the fresh perspectives of university students, while students get hands-on experience.
York University’s Osgoode Venture Capital Clinical Project
The Osgoode Venture Capital Clinical Project (OVC) provides legal services to early stage entrepreneurial ventures through a partnership between York University and Wildeboer Dellelce LLP.
Law students gain valuable hands-on experience, working as caseworkers under the supervision of Wildeboer lawyers, advising on legal tasks such as corporate structuring and restructuring, drafting agreements, incorporation and regulatory compliance, and development of financing strategies.
University of Guelph’s Centre for Business and Student Enterprise
The Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (CBaSE) at the University of Guelph provides entrepreneurship and transformative education for undergraduate and graduate student researchers.
With three levels of co-curricular programming across three areas of specialization, an academic class, and an intensive incubator program, CBaSE supports students throughout their entrepreneurial journey. Through the Hub, CBaSE’s incubator, the growth of more than 20 successful ventures has been supported.
After completing a summer research internship at Manorun Organic Farm in Copetown, third-year plant science undergraduate Tariq Ahmed decided he wanted to make cider. He launched Revel Cider Co. through the Hub at the University of Guelph, under the guidance and mentorship of local businesses such as Manorun Organic and Hamilton-based West Avenue Cider. Ahmed is now the 19th cider producer in Ontario and the youngest in North America.
ENACTUS at Nipissing University
Founded in 2011, Nipissing University’s ENACTUS partnered with Canadore College, the local business centre, and the regional innovation centre in 2014. The community of student, academic, and business leaders is committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world.
Through his involvement in ENACTUS and the business education he received through Nipissing’s School of Business, graduate Kurt Tempelmans Plat formed his own company, KTP Athletics, coupling his passion for athletic coaching and business education. Tempelmans was the past-president of ENACTUS and through the club, was able to build his leadership skills and receive mentorship from various business icons, such as Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications.
Nipissing University’s Entrepreneurship Program
In 2015, Nipissing University successfully piloted a second-year entrepreneurship course for both business and non-business majors, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit within students and connecting them to resources and mentors.
In the second year of its launch, Nipissing student Jeremy Butterworth, a varsity hockey player, not only enrolled in the course, but approached Professor Dianne Davis with his business idea for his FlexPit App.
Through a class speaker series, Butterworth was introduced to the regional innovation centre, which provided a program to seed fund his social media app development. In March 2017, Butterworth received the inaugural Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the annual School of Business award night. In May 2017, he secured venture capital to continue his FlexPit social media app development, and his summer employment has been developing and scaling his app.
Business Administration at Wilfrid Laurier University
Wilfrid Laurier University’s Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration programs have played a critical role in the growth of Waterloo Region as an anchor within the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor.
The Lazaridis School of Business and Economics offers high-impact entrepreneurship programs and is the only Canadian institution recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) for its commitment to creating and incubating cutting-edge business innovations and fostering entrepreneurship in the next generation of business leaders. The employment rate for the fall 2016 co-op work term was 99.5% and the winter 2017 co-op work term was 100%.