Getting Down to Business: Promoting Entrepreneurship

January 17, 2012

In 2012, Actua is investing in future entrepreneurs.

There is a not-so-new term trending right now around me: intrapreneurship. I continue to come across it in articles and discussions. For those not yet familiar, an intrapreneur is an individual working in a large company who possesses the entrepreneurial spirit and has the organization's support  to exercise and apply his or her creativity.

Intrapreneurship is more than just a fashionable moniker being thrown around in times of high unemployment, business slowdowns and innovation stagnation. It is a philosophy and, in some companies, the only way to operate. Where would Google be without the cutting-edge ideas of its astute young employees? Those who adopt the mantra  know that the strength of their company's engine lies in the creative minds of the employees they hire. Intrapreneurship is a tribute to out-of-the-box thinking and innovation.

Canada's report card on innovation is bleak. As the Public Policy Forum recently noted, Canada is seriously lagging behind countries that make "deliberate efforts" to foster innovative thinking. Innovation does not just happen on its own – it needs to be fed and fueled. Our country is at a critical point. Without action, we will not be in a position to compete in the intense knowledge-based, technology-heavy global market that faces us. If we truly want to foster fresh ideas and begin seeing more companies and our economy at large flourish from unique and profitable concepts, we need to do more to promote the entrepreneurial spirit and support the ideas that are born from it.

Some would argue that innovation drives entrepreneurship, while others state that entrepreneurship is the force behind innovation. No matter how you look at it, the two go hand in hand. We need to spark a culture of change in how we – that is the nationwide contingent of decision-makers, policy-makers, corporate and community leaders, advocates, researchers – support our entrepreneurs and innovators from coast to coast to coast.

At Actua, we believe that change starts with youth. We recognize that our country's talent bank is our country's greatest asset, and we believe that young Canadians are a crucial element of that valuable talent.

In countless speeches and public conversations addressing our current economic uncertainty, both on Canadian soil and south of the border, there is banter of fixing the problem quickly so we do not pass along the financial burden to our children. As we seek solutions for future generations, far too often, we miss one key piece: the solution actually lies in the creativity of the next generation.  

By teaching  children to think critically and creatively, we hand them tools to reach their potential over their lifetime. By encouraging them to think out of the box, we help them explore innovative methods that increase our productivity and standard of living. By connecting youth with mentors, we encourage them to carve their own role in a competitive workforce. We need to help youth, at a very young age, understand that their ideas count and that they can make an impact – in their communities and on the international stage.

Actua has a twenty-year track record of delivering inspiring STEM programming that resonates with youth. Our curriculum is designed to instil a life-long passion for pursuing STEM studies and careers. We've seen these programs change lives. We've seen kids release the innovator within. It is time to give them the means to assert the entrepreneur within. We want to give youth – all youth – the tools to marry their science knowledge with business know-how so they can build a better life for themselves and work towards a stronger, more competitive Canada. 

We have always had entrepreneurship at the core of our programming.  We are now in the process of securing resources and partnerships to execute the next phase of a science and entrepreneurship strategy.  This new program will address the critical need to cultivate the next generation of business-savvy innovators in Canada. By Actua taking this next, obvious step in our programming we are allowing our participants to take the next step with their ideas.

If we adopt the principles of intrapreneurship and support the youth in our schools and our communities in the same way many savvy business leaders support their imaginative employees, we have a better chance at developing a sustainable, long-term solution to economic instability. Now is the time to encourage ALL youth to think big.