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Championship: Back to school

This is the 24th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

A couple of moons ago, we talked about how “entrepreneur” is often a four-letter word on the university campus. Too many schools fail to appreciate how Web 2.0 has democratized innovation for the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and make the mistake of assuming it’s only engineers or physics students who can come up with the next billion-dollar idea.

These outdated perspectives are further aggravated by student and faculty cultures that take a dim view of capitalism, scorn profit as a motive, and emphasize formal theory over practical, hands-on projects.

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Recent Comments

  • Francis Moran : I'm so glad to see you warming to this idea, Luc. Not that you were ever one of those mindless critics who automatically opposed the proposal; you were properly skeptical and demanding that it contain more of what folks like you and I believed was necessary for success. Looks like the city is listening.

  • Luc Lalande : Hi Francis, thank you for the steady and keen eye on the development of this important project for the City. I share your view that open spaces in the building’s design will be critical components for encouraging spontaneous interactions between people. Integrating such spaces in the Innovation Complex sends the right signals to the community-at-large and not just the local startup ecosystem: everyone is welcomed! With respect to Patti’s comments about the arts sector, it would be worth bringing back to light that the Hintonburg-Mechanicsville area has emerged as the first Arts District in the City of Ottawa, housing many artist studios, performing arts studios, and media groups. While the 7 Bayview located Innovation Complex may cater to the entrepreneurial set, there is still considerable property on these lands that could, one day, be developed and capitalize on the area’s sizable artistic community. But perhaps the open spaces at the Innovation Complex can be equally accommodating for anyone who embraces creativity and entrepreneurship: artists and innovators alike.

  • How can we foster culture of entrepreneurship? | Waterloo Innovation Summit : [...] Velocity also provides hands-on workshops for anyone at the University to learn about becoming a successful entrepreneur, and awards over $300,000 per year through the Velocity Fund to promising early startups, to help launch their success financially. We keep finding really good problems that are worthy of solving and that we think we’d be good at solving. - Mike Kirkup, Director of Velocity and Student Innovation Waterloo’s Velocity accelerator is 5, and growing fast [...]

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