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Big boost

Emera invests $7 million for entrepreneurship programming at Memorial

Campus and Community

By Dave Penney

If you ask Florian Villaumé how to best support young innovators at Memorial, his answer is straightforward.

From left are Michelle Simms, Genesis; Florian Villaumé, Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship; and Nicole Helwig, Centre for Social Enterprise.
Photo: Dave Howells

“We need to get students on the path to entrepreneurship to ensure that aspiring entrepreneurs stay in our province and join the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through inspiration, guidance, resources and a community, we create an exciting environment where those students work on entrepreneurial projects and shine.”

Innovation and entrepreneurship

As the director of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE), Mr. Villaumé is thrilled with the announcement that Emera Inc. is contributing $7 million to student innovation and entrepreneurship programming at Memorial.

The MCE stands to receive a portion of that investment and he’s enthusiastic about how this will help create a dynamic environment for student entrepreneurship.

“These funds will go a long way in helping us ramp up our programming, reach more students and generate excitement about entrepreneurship on campus,” said Mr. Villaumé.

“The MCE has been on campus since 2016, and we have already seen a large number of new startups created and many entrepreneurial students making the choice to stay in the province after graduation. Emera’s support will help build on our past successes and increase the number of student entrepreneurs we can support.”

Initiated as a partnership of the faculties of business and engineering and applied science, the MCE serves undergraduate and graduate students across Memorial’s St. John’s campus.

The contribution from Emera will create a funding model to sustain and enhance student innovation and entrepreneurial programming. The funds will be directed primarily to the MCE, the Centre for Social Enterprise (CSE), Genesis and other innovation initiatives.

Engaging the community

The CSE is another emerging student innovation entity at Memorial.

Created through a unique partnership between the Faculty of Business Administration, the School of Social Work and the School of Music, but engaging the entire Memorial community, the CSE seeks to enhance the quality of the human experience via social enterprise and social innovation.

“Supporting organizations with strong social mandates is key to pursuing a truly comprehensive model for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Nicole Helwig, manager, CSE. “Student enthusiasm for social justice and their ingenuity to drive positive social change reflects this, and the social enterprise model embraces that ideal.”

While the three centres operate as distinct entities, their student programs will be enhanced to better support and complement each other.

“Memorial is taking another big step forward as a leader in this work with Emera’s support.” — Michelle Simms

Supporting idea generation while educating and enabling student entrepreneurs across campus, the MCE feeds the earliest stage of the startup funnel, while the CSE helps students discover how social enterprises develop innovative and sustainable ways to address social and environmental challenges and explore future career paths in the sector.

The Genesis Evolution Student program is focused on accelerating the development of the most promising technology ideas into formal startup enterprises.

“Genesis has a long history of success when it comes to supporting entrepreneurs pursuing technology-based businesses with high-growth potential in this province,” said Michelle Simms, CEO, Genesis.

“This investment in student programming is all about reaching emerging entrepreneurs at the very beginning to cultivate and inspire them. They’ll be the next generation of innovative leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador, creating new ventures and technologies that we haven’t even considered. Memorial is taking another big step forward as a leader in this work with Emera’s support.”

The $7-million contribution from Emera Inc. was announced on Sept. 6, and is being recognized by naming the public engagement and innovation space on Memorial’s Signal Hill Campus as the Emera Innovation Exchange.

Note: There are currently no plans to relocate MCE and CSE to Signal Hill Campus and they will continue to operate from their respective locations on Memorial’s St. John’s Campus. MCE is located in EN3075 (S.J. Carew Building, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science) and CSE at BN4016 (Faculty of Business Administration).

Genesis is currently moving from the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation to its new location at Signal Hill Campus.

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