September 10, 2020 - Lakehead University's most recent initiative is the addition of its business incubator called Ingenuity. This is a place for students with start-up ideas that will give them the tools and the capacity to turn those ideas into innovations.
Lakehead University is known for the importance of being a student first institution, and the creation of Ingenuity truly shows that statement is true. Creating an environment of entrepreneurial thinkers and giving them the tools and space to create and grow, eventually leads to innovation and creation, as well as the economic development of Thunder Bay by the emergence of new businesses and job opportunities.
The resources included with Ingenuity are: workshops where students learn hands on skills, speaker series where students are able to learn from experienced entrepreneurs and professionals in respected fields, Boot Camps, Lunch and Learns, mentor network, prototype development and community partnerships. These resources are all offered with the intent of helping students who are looking to start a business or grow an idea. Other resources available to students include a 3D printer and laser cutter, a media room that includes video equipment and editing software as well as competitions to bring out the competitive edge that makes for a successful entrepreneur. These resources not only make available the tools necessary to support growth but also give valuable knowledge from experienced professionals to allow for business development.
All of this is made possible with supportive community partnerships that directly aid with business development. Ingenuity’s community partners and resources include; The Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre, PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise, The Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre, Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund, Thunder Bay Ventures, Ontario Co-op Council and the Business Development Bank of Canada.
One of the first programs launched by the business incubator was the Ingenuity Accelerator program. The Accelerator is a 10 week program in which up to 10 entrepreneurs per cohort are selected. Participants have access to networking events, business development workshops, mentor connections and access up to $7500 per business idea for the costs associated with business development. This program is free of charge for all current and recent graduates from Lakehead University. Even with the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ingenuity Accelerator program is available online through Ingenuity. Examples of community events include: Why Your Business Needs An Online Store, A Guide to Develop Your Social Media Positioning, The Importance of Women’s Entrepreneurship for Economic Recovery and many more. These events, much like Ingenuity, are designed to grow the entrepreneurial skills and knowledge to help support growth of the province as well as the local economy by investing in the students of Lakehead University and providing them with the tools and knowledge to do so.
Ingenuity at Lakehead University will have many positive impacts throughout the years to come. Giving young students and entrepreneurial driven individuals the tools and knowledge to help build start-ups that will have positive economic impacts on the City of Thunder Bay by creating jobs and businesses is a step in the right direction.
Andrew Jalak was a Communications Officer at NPI
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