By Anne Kershaw
Venture for Canada has seen an increase in the number of science and technology students applying for Fellowships after a concerted drive supported by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) to raise awareness of the opportunity amongst STEM students.
After a highly competitive selection process involving over 900 applicants and more than double the usual number of applicants with STEM backgrounds, Venture for Canada announced the first Fellows of the 2016 cohort. Of the 23 recipients, about a third were STEM students.
“This is a great outcome,” says Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of OCE. “We were able to use our experience working with students, researchers and entrepreneurs in the STEM disciplines to help attract students whose strong academic backgrounds can combine with business and entrepreneurship skills to create strong leadership potential.”
Fellows accepted into the Venture for Canada program spend two years working at one of Ontario’s top growing start-ups. Fellows are currently working at such notable companies as Vidyard, eSight, and Nymi. Fellows receive competitive compensation from their employers in addition to five weeks of training at Queen’s University and ongoing mentorship and support for the duration of the Fellowship. They gain the experience, training, and network to successfully launch their own firms
OCE’s partnership with Venture for Canada is a natural extension of its commitment to fostering entrepreneurism and supporting students who are interested in building their own company.
OCE has recently significantly expanded its focus on youth entrepreneurship with the introduction of its SmartStart Seed Fund, Campus Linked Accelerators and On Campus Entrepreneurship Activities programs, and TalentEdge Internship and Fellowship programs.
These programs cover a wide spectrum of entrepreneurship activities, everything from training and development support to seed capital funding and infrastructure support for academic institutions.
“Given our extensive experience working with students, researchers and entrepreneurs in the STEM disciplines, we knew we could help get the word out about this fantastic experience,” says Dr. Corr. “Through the creation of an OCE – Venture for Canada fellowship stream, we can provide fantastic opportunities for STEM students to work at top Ontario start-ups.
“This very positive development helps to bring a greater diversity of academic backgrounds to the program and opens the doors for students with advanced education, including PhDs, to pursue entrepreneurship as a career path,” says Dr. Corr.
Adding this exciting new dynamic to the Venture for Canada program is also good news for Ontario’s vibrant start-ups that are looking to scale their firms and can benefit greatly from the exceptional talent of these fellows, he added.