This article is sponsored by the University of Ottawa Faculty of Engineering.
The launch of Alacrity Ottawa by the University of Ottawa and Wesley Clover could be considered the climax of a story years in the making.
Consider, after all, the players.
For almost 15 years, the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering has worked with its generous alumni to develop a growing number of competitions, resources and curricula with a common goal – to educate engineering students on what it takes to bring a winning product to market.
It’s not just about helping engineers understand the role they play in the innovation ecosystem, but also equipping them to become entrepreneurs themselves.
The University of Ottawa founded its Kanata North campus in 2018 as the next step, to connect academic research and its brightest young minds with the needs of industry in emerging markets.
Then we have Wesley Clover – a name synonymous the world over with startup chutzpah and innovation that is also based in Kanata North.
Wesley Clover founded Alacrity in 2009 with its first incubator/accelerator in Victoria, B.C. Since then, this initiative has expanded and refined its model with chapters around the world. Alacrity Global educates entrepreneurs, founds new technology startups and secures funding to scale these new businesses.
Despite its growth and success, Alacrity Global did not have an Ottawa chapter.
Through Alacrity Ottawa, uOttawa and Wesley Clover will educate, train and support engineering graduates with mentorship and investment opportunities meant to foster a pipeline of new Canadian tech startups.
“Alacrity Ottawa is for those bright minds who want to learn what it takes to become an entrepreneur, but don’t yet have a strong business idea and are looking for a challenge from industry,” said Veronica Farmer, director of partnerships and commercialization for uOttawa Kanata North. “It’s another path that complements uOttawa’s other entrepreneurial initiatives, such as MakerLaunch and Startup/Scaleup Garages.”
Alacrity Ottawa will be supported by Wesley Clover’s L-SPARK technology accelerator in Kanata North, as well as the uOttawa Faculty of Engineering’s new Master’s degree in Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (MEED).
Every engineer is a potential entrepreneur
MEED is a two-year program that will launch in September 2021 at the university’s downtown campus. It will offer aspiring entrepreneurs academic instruction combined with practical business training and experience in how to develop a business idea and turn it into a company.
As students move through MEED, they will spend time at the uOttawa Kanata North campus and intern with local tech companies. This will put them on the frontline of new technology development in the hottest emerging markets, including 5G+ networking, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and medtech.
MEED was created by Hanan Anis, uOttawa NSERC chair in entrepreneurial engineering design and faculty coordinator in entrepreneurship and innovation.
“I am always convinced that the best way to learn to be an entrepreneur is by doing,” she said. “We keep adding the building blocks at uOttawa because we believe entrepreneurship is a vital, even necessary, career option for any engineer to have in their back pocket. This is not the same kind of job market as the one that existed for our parents and grandparents.”
Tackling healthcare challenges
Given how the world is wrestling with a health crisis, Alacrity Ottawa’s initial focus will be on challenges and opportunities in the digital medtech space.
Successful applicants will form teams to tackle industry challenges. Those teams with viable and potentially scalable solutions will be presented to appropriate investors. If a match is made, a team will secure funding to form a new company and begin its journey as a startup.
“As technologies of all sorts advance at unprecedented rates, the commitment of the University of Ottawa to play an ever-more relevant role, combined with the experience of the Alacrity technology and business teams, make this a timely initiative that is sure to benefit the city, the Canadian technology landscape and our aspiring young entrepreneurs,” said Wesley Clover chairman Terry Matthews.