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Knowledge economy

Emera contribution to advance innovation at Memorial University

Campus and Community

By Jeff Green and Dave Penney

As the province’s only university, Memorial plays a key role in supporting innovators and innovative ideas across all of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The ability to deliver on this responsibility was enhanced significantly by the recent announcement that Emera Inc. has contributed $7 million toward student entrepreneurship and innovation programming.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

The investment is specifically directed at students via a funding model that will sustain and enhance student innovation and entrepreneurial programming, directed primarily to the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE), the Centre for Social Enterprise (CSE), Genesis and other innovation initiatives.

“Emera has made a leadership investment in helping us move this forward.” — Dr. Neil Bose

The support complements Memorial’s Innovation Initiative, a pan-university plan to ensure Memorial empowers students, faculty, staff and external partners to create a better world through innovation.

“Memorial is committed to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), who co-chairs the Innovation Initiative along with Memorial’s president, Dr. Gary Kachanoski. “We are ensuring our researchers and next generation of creators, inventors and discoverers flourish with their ideas and build a vibrant and successful future for our province and beyond.”

Dr. Neil Bose
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Bose adds that this investment from Emera represented a vital part of a working innovation system that includes participation from government, business, post-secondary institutions and citizens.

“Memorial plays a critical role in bridging these partnerships and growing the knowledge economy in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Emera has made a leadership investment in helping us move this forward,” he said. “This contribution also creates incredible opportunities for Memorial to leverage additional investments in the area of innovation from others in the public and private sector.”

Social enterprise

Emily Bland graduated from Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration in 2017. She is also an emerging entrepreneur.

During her student career, Ms. Bland was president of Enactus Memorial, a team of student volunteers who work on projects that improve lives and create opportunities through entrepreneurial action and socially responsible enterprises.

Emily Bland, Project Sucseed
Photo: Dave Howells

One of those initiatives was the highly successful Project SucSeed.

The hydroponic systems at the centre of this initiative address issues of food security and sustainability generally, while also providing vocational training that employs disadvantaged young people through a partnership with Choices for Youth. Ms. Bland now runs the business as a social enterprise independent of Enactus Memorial.

“We need to give young people the freedom to be bold and creative.” — Emily Bland

Thanks to a strong foundation of entrepreneurial education through the Enactus program, support from CSE, and now as a client of Genesis, Ms. Bland knows better than anyone the benefits of creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at Memorial.

“An investment like this, focused on students, will not only better support young people like me who are already motivated to pursue entrepreneurial ventures and social enterprises, but also encourage more students to consider these options as viable career opportunities to begin with,” said Ms. Bland.

“If we really want to create strong economies and communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, we need to give young people the freedom to be bold and creative.”

The $7 million contribution from Emera Inc. was announced on Sept. 6, 2018 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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