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Ontario’s Campus-Linked Accelerator Program gives $3 million boost to U of T entrepreneurs

Gimmy Chu, one of the University of Toronto alumni behind startup success Nanoleaf, with the revolutionary light bulb backed by investors around the world (photo by Johnny Guatto)

The University of Toronto will receive more than $3 million in funding to increase training and support for student entrepreneurship as part of Ontario’s new Campus-Linked Accelerator Program (CLA).

“Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit among students is a key component of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, through programs that help transfer their ideas and skills to the marketplace while creating rewarding careers,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario’s minister of research and innovation and minister of training, colleges and universities.

“By partnering with colleges and universities to support entrepreneurship, we are ensuring our province’s business leaders of tomorrow are getting the support they need to succeed today.”

The University of Toronto produces more startups than any other university in Canada and is already home to a diverse ecosystem of entrepreneurship supports, including accelerators, programs, courses, classes and co-curricular organizations. (Read more about entrepreneurship at U of T.)

The $3,056,000 of funding over two years will enable U of T to better coordinate its entrepreneurship activities, expand the base of students exposed to entrepreneurship at the university and enhance the quality of training, said Scott Mabury, U of T’s vice-president of university operations.

“The University of Toronto has long been a leader in fostering entrepreneurship,” Mabury said. “This new investment allows us to strengthen the impact of our range of initiatives and intensify our ties with the regional innovation ecosystem.”

With this funding, said Mabury, U of T will continue to build on its long track record of success in this area by expanding the entrepreneurship opportunities it offers to students, primarily through its four principal accelerators: The Creative Destruction Lab (Rotman School of Management), The Hatchery (Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering), The Impact Centre (Faculty of Arts & Science), and UTEST (The Innovation and Partnerships Office, produced in partnership with MaRS Innovation). U of T’s Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will operate as an umbrella accelerator to coordinate entrepreneurship activities across the University’s three campuses.

“The CLA program will greatly enhance what the University of Toronto can offer its community in terms of entrepreneur-focused education and support,” said Jesse Rodgers, director of the Creative Destruction Lab at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management. “The university is rich with experience, research and raw talent to build strong companies.

“With support from the CLA initiative more students will have what they need to be successful.”

Brianna Goldberg writes about entrepreneurship for U of T News.