Helping turn ideas into companies
An innovation and business enthusiast, Josh Wright is making the most of the skills he picked up from CBET’s Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program.
Wright, who graduated from the MBET program in 2010, is the manager of strategic initiatives at the Accelerator Centre located in Waterloo’s David Johnston Research and Technology Park. Heavily involved in many types of research programs, government grant reporting and funding applications, he also holds the same title at the University of Waterloo Commercialization Office.
And there’s more. Wright is launching his own business start-up called Edgeware, which he began while an MBET student along with some of his colleagues from the program. The goals of Edgeware are to enable companies to innovate in a disciplined way. He is also a teaching assistant for the MBET program, administering and mentoring its commercialization practicum projects and does some marketing and business development consulting with start-ups on the side.
Although busy, Wright says he’s invigorated by his work. “The very nature of entrepreneurship is creating something out of nothing,” he says. “Meeting other entrepreneurs and seeing ideas form every day into marketable businesses is a great experience; that’s my passion.”
- The University of Waterloo honoured local philanthropist Manfred Conrad and his family by naming the university’s business, entrepreneurship and technology centre the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre. In April 2010, CBET received $3 million from Conrad, the founder of The Cora Group and developer of three buildings in Waterloo’s Research and Technology Park, including the Accelerator Centre where CBET is located.
- Rod McNaughton, the Eyton Chair in Entrepreneurship, succeeded Howard Armitage as director of CBET on January 1, 2011.
Program nurtures business startups
Walk into the Communitech Hub located in downtown Kitchener and you’ll discover a 30,000-square-foot hotbed of business activity, filled with blue-chip companies, innovative start-ups and the new home of the University of Waterloo’s Enterprise Co-op program. Also known as e-co-op, the program offers students a unique opportunity to spend a work term starting their own business, taking advantage of mentoring and completing a co-op credit in the process.
Each term, about a dozen students take on the e-co-op challenge, says Doug Sparkes, associate director of the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, which oversees the program. For some, e-co-op provides an opportunity to test a new business idea. Others use it to ramp up a venture they’ve already launched. Either way, participants get real-life lessons in assessing opportunities, securing funding, managing employees and learning to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
The university-wide program has attracted engineering students with high-tech ideas, including extreme-sport camera systems and charging stations for electric cars.
While no business experience is required, passion is. “Some students enter the program and you may think their business idea could be stronger yet you know that someday you’re going to read about them in the Globe and Mail business pages,” says Sparkes. “You just know it when you see them.”