A big celebration for Big Ideas

October 2, 2013

This summer, Actua teamed up with the Rotman School of Management and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity to develop and deliver a new series of camps across southern Ontario. The aim of the camp program was to teach youth how to combine STEM with the ideals of business. In an economy that is evolving to place more and more value on scientific knowledge and critical and creative thinking skills, one without the other just doesn’t make sense.

The five-day Big Ideas: Creativity, Design and Innovation educational outreach experience combines Actua’s mission of providing youth with life-changing experiences in STEM with the core elements of the innovation process currently taught through Rotman School of Management’s MBA Program. This first-of-its-kind program is designed to cultivate the next generation of business-savvy, science-minded entrepreneurs.

Judging by the fact that our Big Ideas camps were attended by more than 450 young Ontarians, and by the excitement that those kids showed when grasping the concepts thrown at them, I’d say we have reason to celebrate their success.

And, that’s exactly what we did.

Last Friday, September 27th, at a gathering in Toronto at Rotman’s Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking, we stood side-by-side with the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Big Ideas funder, and with Rotman and ICP, our partners in this program. A group of camp participants also joined in.

It was a moment to take stock of just what was achieved through these ground-breaking camps. It was a celebration of the inspiration sparked by the unique curriculum. It was a means to thank all those involved.

Representing FedDev at the event was the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev. He was eager to show his enthusiasm for the camps…in both word and deed. Beyond his reassuring message – “The Government is pleased to support projects that provide our young people with the tools they need to reach their potential, in innovation, in research, in business and in STEM careers” – Minister Goodyear was wholeheartedly engaged with the kids, immersed in their stories about their experiences.

Also represented at the celebration were four of our members – Science Explorations at York University, Venture Engineering and Science at McMaster University, Engineering Outreach at the University of Toronto and Adventures in Engineering and Science at the University of Ottawa – which were on the frontlines, delivering this new curriculum on campuses across southern Ontario.

As a result of this collaborative effort, where each player brought its own set of expertise and experience – 450 young Ontarians now think of themselves as innovators, as entrepreneurs.

I’ve always maintained that every young Canadian has the capacity to be a leader. By working with a leading business management school like Rotman to add the entrepreneurship layer to the STEM content, Big Ideas has been able to further prepare those future leaders for the knowledge-based economy and science-focused workforce of tomorrow.

To view the Big Ideas: Creativity, Design and Innovation video, click here.

To read the Big Ideas: Creativity, Design and Innovation press release, click here.