Submitted By: Alyson MacKay

In 2018, the Lakehead University Thunder Bay campus will open the doors to a new state-of-the-art research and innovation facility.  The Centre for Advanced Studies in Engineering and Sciences (CASES) will improve the scale and quality of leading research, training, and on-campus entrepreneurship for researchers and their students. Universities all over the country have been opening entrepreneurship centres, incubator spaces, co-working spaces, and accelerators in order to support student innovation and start-ups.

Lakehead’s Economic Development and Innovation office has been visiting these spaces throughout Ontario in order to build a network, learn the best practices, as well as determine what they have done well, or what they would change if they could start over. Lakehead has taken all of this gathered information back to the Entrepreneurial Planning Group in order to successfully structure INGENUITY – Lakehead University’s first incubator and co-working space.

The strategic vision for INGENUITY is to foster an entrepreneurial culture, create employment and self-employment opportunities, and to contribute to the region’s economic development by leveraging existing community resources to deliver a range of on-campus entrepreneurship activities. By targeting students, alumni, and others in the community who are interested in entrepreneurship, the program will promote successful start-up businesses. The program will emphasize, but is not be limited to, developing entrepreneurship and innovation in a range of business areas that are relevant to our region and contribute to the economic development of Northwestern Ontario.

INGENUITY and CASES will provide the pipeline from discovery research to commercialization, and will support Northwestern Ontario’s next generation of scientists, engineers, and high-growth businesses by integrating research, innovation, training, entrepreneurship and external services for industry and business.

Business incubators nurture the development of entrepreneurial companies, helping them survive and grow during the start-up period, when they are most vulnerable. The most common goals of incubation programs are creating jobs in a community, enhancing a community’s entrepreneurial climate, retaining businesses in a community, building or accelerating growth in a local industry, and diversifying local economies.

One of the main goals of INGENUITY will be to provide a professional working environment, teach essential entrepreneurial skills, and facilitate business development through mentorship, to help solve the problems new fledgling ventures face.

First and foremost, the most important outcome of INGENUITY for Lakehead University is to promote awareness about entrepreneurial resources, programming, and opportunities for students, and, in turn, to create and support entrepreneurial culture and passion on-campus.

Ideally, INGENUITY will help create and sustain an entrepreneurially-minded campus, leading to more start-up companies, which will contribute to the overall economic growth and climate of Thunder Bay, and northwestern Ontario.

Keep watching for updates about INGENUITY. In the meantime if you have questions about business start-up connect with your on campus Entrepreneurship Coordinator, Alyson MacKay.