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EKA Innovations co-founder Aman Mann (Laura Leyshon FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
EKA Innovations co-founder Aman Mann (Laura Leyshon FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Networking

Cross-country tour exposes gaps for startups Add to ...

The startup wouldn't necessarily have to be a for-profit business; it could be a service or a blog, but the student would learn to develop a unique idea, build an organization and find ways to promote it, Mr. Annan said.

This fall, he hopes to persuade individuals and corporations to pledge support to the Canadian Entrepreneur Fellowship so it can begin offering the stipends in 2013.

The next step for Startup Canada will be a meeting in Ottawa in late November that will include 15 entrepreneurial groups, Canadian government officials and representatives from startup groups in Britain, Chile and the United States. Keynote speeches will be by Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Week and senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, and Alan Barrell, entrepreneur in residence at Cambridge University.

Meanwhile, Ms. Lennox hopes that the town halls will be the seed for a grassroots organizing of events across the country. “The questions they invariably asked at the end of our town halls was, ‘When can we get together again?' ” Ms. Lennox said.

Startup Canada's continued role would be to provide an apolitical way to get people around the table and share their stories and expertise, she said. “Ultimately, entrepreneurs are going to build companies with or without support, but with a spirit of collaboration in providing resources that add value, they will build them faster and better.”

PRIORITIES FOR ENTREPRENEURS ACROSS CANADA

Regional priorities that emerged from Startup Canada’s town hall meetings across the country:

Atlantic Canada: Empowering young entrepreneurs

The significant focus was on increasing awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option. Ideas included summer entrepreneurship camps, small business internship programs, entrepreneurs in residence in high schools and co-ordination of entrepreneur support activities on college and university campuses.

Quebec: Creating entrepreneurial communities

Ideas included “mash-up” networking events to connect tech entrepreneurs with start-ups from other fields, such as culture, design and marketing, developing a provincewide mentorship program and a network of student entrepreneurship clubs connecting local support communities.

Ontario: Celebrating entrepreneursThe focus was on giving entrepreneurship a higher profile. Ideas included developing national mainstream media attention, such as a “heritage moments” video campaign; and having entrepreneurs recognized on coins, stamps and in special exhibits in museums, libraries and malls.

Manitoba: Creating creative spaces

Ideas included developing a business incubator and co-working space for entrepreneurs in Winnipeg and pop-up shops to revitalize commercial spaces downtown.

Saskatchewan: Breaking down silos

A significant concern was the need to bring together the fragmented entrepreneurial community. Ideas included networking opportunities and online forums.

Alberta: Global connectivityA concern that local startups will need to look outside the borders for significant growth. Ideas included creating an online resource with information on global markets, development of links to funding by foreign capital and a fund for entrepreneurs to attend international trade shows.

British Columbia: Follow the entrepreneur

The province has many successful entrepreneurs who could provide valuable advice to startups. Suggestions included establishing entrepreneur advisory councils, a central virtual marketplace for entrepreneurs to exchange services to accelerate growth and entrepreneur shadowing programs for policy makers to better understand the experience of growing a business.

BEST PRACTICES:

Here are efforts identified by Startup Canada as having best practices:

Atlantic provinces

Youth Entrepreneurship Forum in Mill River, P.E.I.: High school students from across the province came together for a day to hear from island entrepreneurs about how they pursue their passions through entrepreneurship – from restaurant owners to fitness coaches

SIFE Memorial in St. John’s: University students are learning by doing by creating entrepreneurial solutions to real-world problems – i.e. business residential bootcamps for veterans.

Pond Deshpande Centre, Fredericton: Has developed a student entrepreneurship ambassador program wherein each university and college in the province will now have a supported student entrepreneurship ambassador mandated to cultivate student enterprise on campus.

Quebec

Startup Quebec: A newly formed organization in Quebec City that seeks to provide a supportive peer network across the city’s entrepreneurial tech community through networking events, mentorship and programming

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