Building on its reputation as one of Ontario's most entrepreneurial colleges, Niagara College will launch a new hub that will expand and enhance the college's entrepreneurship activities.
The project is supported by a $200,000 grant from Ontario's On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities program, managed by Ontario Centres of Excellence and matched by Niagara College. The hub will embed a spirit of entrepreneurship across all NC programs and activities, while enhancing the student experience by increasing access to experts, mentors, events and opportunities on campus and in the community. NC's hub is a member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.
Led jointly by Niagara College's Business, Hospitality and Environment, and Media, Trades and Technology divisions, this project will collaborate with several existing resource centres for entrepreneurs in Niagara, including Innovate Niagara, Start-Up Niagara, St. Catharines Enterprise Centre, Job Gym in Welland and Brock University. The project will also leverage the synergies that exist with NC's Research and Innovation Division.
“A thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem exists here at Niagara College and across the region, and this hub will tap into it to the benefit of our students and local business," said Vivian Kinnaird, Niagara College's dean of Business, Hospitality and Environment. “This is an initiative that reflects our commitment to provide unique learning environments that are directly linked to our regional economy, and driven by entrepreneurial thinking."
Activities delivered through the hub will be aimed at all Niagara College program areas, and will include workshops; clubs; pitch competitions; entrepreneurs-in-residence; mentorship panels and more.
“Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit among students is a key component of Ontario's Youth Jobs Strategy, through programs that help transfer their ideas and skills to the marketplace while creating rewarding careers," said Reza Moridi, Ontario's minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. “By partnering with colleges and universities to support entrepreneurship, we are ensuring our province's business leaders of tomorrow are getting the support they need to succeed today."
“Ontario Centres of Excellence is pleased to be able to deliver this project as a trusted partner of the Government of Ontario," added Tom Corr, DBA, president and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence. “I look forward to putting our years of experience in connecting academia and industry, and our on-going support of young entrepreneurs to good use in making this initiative a tremendous success."
The project leverages NC's strong culture of entrepreneurship, which has been developed through several initiatives and programs. Through learning enterprises, including an on-campus restaurant, teaching winery, teaching brewery, spa and greenhouse – students gain hands-on experience in real businesses that serve the public. NC's Business Development Centre has helped more than 2,000 individuals launch successful businesses thanks to mentoring provided by Niagara College business consultants. Niagara College's Research and Innovation division helps local businesses innovate and bring new products to market by providing access to research facilities and student and faculty expertise.
“A strong entrepreneurial spirit is nothing new at Niagara College," said Misheck Mwaba, PhD, dean of Media, Trades and Technology. “Through our entrepreneurship hub, we will expand these activities and provide budding entrepreneurs from all of our program areas with mentorship and support."
“Niagara is home to forward-thinking student entrepreneurs who are contributing valuable, innovative business ideas to the local ecosystem," said Jeff Chesebrough, CEO of Innovate Niagara. “Partnering with Niagara College to support the entrepreneurship hub will help facilitate student entrepreneurs' access to the game-changing services and resources available through Innovate Niagara."
Project organizers have hit the ground running – a project manager is in place, faculty leads have been identified, and activities are scheduled to begin in early 2015. If you are leading entrepreneurial activities inside or outside the classroom, please contact project manager Rachel Crane at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss opportunities to support entrepreneurial education at Niagara College.
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