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Connecting youth to entrepreneurship

May 3, 2013

The Globe and Mail posted an article Tuesday entitled "Tech entrepreneurs need MBA skills: startup mentor." The piece was authored by Daina Lawrence.

Lawrence quotes Trevor MacAusland, Executive Director of a not-for-profit group that is in the business of fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, as advocating for more tailored MBA programming that incorporates technology, to properly prepare Canada’s student population for the tech-heavy jobs that await them.

With the introduction of STEM-focused knowledge into the MBA curriculum, students would be better positioned to make the connection between science and business. It would, as MacAusland says, “match up those analytical, business-minded individuals to technology or research that’s being done in a university setting.” 

While Actua aims to inspire a segment of the population much younger than the post-graduate group highlighted in the article, we share some common ground with MacAusland. 

We are also in the business of driving innovation in Canada. We, too, believe in the power of mentorship – it is a key vehicle to inspire youth with STEM. And, like MacAusland, we see the value of adding an entrepreneurship lens to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

We are working on further harmonizing these two streams – STEM and entrepreneurship – to further inspire youth with science. 

Through an innovative partnership with the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto) and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity (ICP), we will bring the Big Ideas: Creativity, Design and Innovation Program camp and workshops to southern Ontario youth. This new initiative will effectively place the value of STEM in a business context.

The Big Ideas curriculum is designed to spark the entrepreneurial spirit and cultivate a user-centred mindset around design and prototyping. Campers will be encouraged to make improvements to everyday tools, allowing them to see the link between original ideas and market needs. They will also develop business strategies to make their ideas come to life.

The three partners developing and delivering the programming bring a wealth of collective knowledge and connections in this critical area of youth education: the Rotman School of Management with its leading business education expertise; ICP with its deep research-based understanding of innovation and prosperity; and Actua with our member network, unrivaled reach, and our proven track record in inspiring youth in STEM.

So, we commend Daina Lawrence for highlighting the need to weave science and technology curriculum into post-graduate programs - that STEM knowledge and related skills will further help students meet the demands of the evolving workforce. It is one step in the bigger picture of connecting youth to economic development opportunities and to the Canadian job market.  It is one piece of fostering the next generation of innovation. Within that bigger picture, the Big Ideas camp, coming to Canadian youth this summer, will also support  a new generation of innovators, driving them to succeed in a new economy.