Entrepreneurship can happen anywhere, anytime, all it takes is a good idea to solve a problem, persistence and creativity. We’ve seen at the University of Waterloo that you can harness the creative drive of our students, faculty and alumni, and support them to develop their own ventures that impact the lives of millions.

BlackBerry, OpenText, Instacart, Vidyard, Maluuba (acquired by Microsoft), Faire, ApplyBoard and hundreds of other businesses have their roots in the University of Waterloo. That’s not a coincidence, nor is it slowing down. Waterloo entrepreneurs are only just getting started.

Developing a Culture of Entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Waterloo remains an engine of innovation and impact for Canada. Waterloo is home to extremely talented students and researchers who are inherently curious. As an institution, we have the opportunity to support these bright minds to start their own venture and help guide them on how to pursue that potential dream. The worst thing we can do is let good, original ideas sit on a shelf.

The University of Waterloo does this by not only developing a culture of entrepreneurship built on the excitement of trying something new but also stressing that failure is okay. It’s not the end of the world. You can pick yourself up and try again.

Creating the Infrastructure to Support Entrepreneurs

Through a range of supports, including our startup incubator Velocity, Concept and the Accelerator Centre, Waterloo startups have seen a five-year survival rate of 68 per cent, better than the average five-year rate of 51 per cent in Canada.

Startups are greatly assisted by two things: mentors and access to capital. Budding entrepreneurs need the guidance of both seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals with field expertise. These resources are invaluable to someone launching a new venture and integral to supporting their mission and well within the realm of a university that can tap into its vast alumni network.

They also need capital. Both at the angel and pre-revenue side, but also at the accelerator and scale-up stage. Universities can act as hubs for investors to find those talented teams and the technological innovations that drive industry shifting businesses. Money will always find good ideas, and universities can play an integral role in building the linkages needed to connect it with the entrepreneurs who need it to spur product development, footprint expansion, access to a global marketplace and job creation.

An Open IP Policy

Finally, a university can break down barriers to entrepreneurship simply through how they approach intellectual property ownership. It seems small but having a creator-owned IP Policy, as Waterloo does, can spur on tremendous curiosity and commercialization of ideas for the benefit of the entrepreneur and for Canada.

To find out more about entrepreneurship at the University of Waterloo, look no further than:

  • Velocity
  • Concept
  • Accelerator Centre
  • St. Paul’s GreenHouse
  • Conrad School for Entrepreneurship and Business