Simon Fraser University has received a $1 million gift from Coast Capital Savings to help fund Western Canada’s first university business “student incubator” over the next five years.
Don Coulter, president and CEO of the 1,650-employee Surrey-based credit union, said he was extremely proud” to announce to fund the SFU Venture Connection over the next five years, during a ceremony at Surrey’s SFU campus Friday afternoon.
He then performed the electronic money transfer on stage, to much applause.
Andrew Petter, president and vice-chancellor of the university, thanked Coast Capital “for the faith you have in us and the support you’ve given us.”
Petter said the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection has grown from serving 74 students in 2008 to “this year providing opportunities — wait for it — for 1,100 students and community members.
“Through Venture Connection these people are empowered to pursue their entrepreneurial goals through workshops, through mentorships, through early stage incubation,” he said, to an audience of about 100 people. “It’s an amazing learning experience as well as an entrepreneurial opportunity for our students. To date over 6,000 participants have received advice and support and 500 student teams have been mentored, resulting in 170 new innovations and many thriving companies.”
Sarah Lubik, SFU’s director of Entrepreneurship, said the university and its partners have created “a perfect storm of innovation and entrepreneurial rock stardom.
“Venture Connection is at the heart of all that. This is where world-class researchers, faculty and grad students are starting clean-tech ventures next to health science undergrads and communications alumni and often starting those ventures with those people,” Lubik said. “And so this cross-pollination of ideas and talent is really our special sauce, and what we’re getting out of it is just staggering.”
Some companies that have benefited from the program include Ionomr, Buyatab Media Inc., MetroLeap Media Inc., CKM Sports Management Ltd., MetaOptima Technology Inc., and VeloMetro, a company that builds “modern, lightweight and thoughtfully designed electric-assist personal transportation that takes the best features from both bicycles and automobiles.”