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Fostering Student Entrepreneurship in the GTA

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Fostering Student Entrepreneurship in the GTA

Ontario Partnering with Colleges and Universities to Create Innovative Programs

Ontario is helping student entrepreneurs gain business skills, mentorship and hands-on experience to start and grow a business.

Campus-Linked Accelerators (CLA) is investing over $6.8 million to build on world-class innovation and entrepreneurial programs at GTA colleges and universities. On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA) is providing more than $600,000 to support GTA academic institutions that are committed to entrepreneurship on their campuses.

Campus-Linked Accelerators:

  • OCAD University is supporting increased student entrepreneurship engagement, including students from under-represented and at-risk communities, by leveraging its research expertise as well as utilizing local and global partnerships.
  • The University of Toronto is establishing a central Office of Entrepreneurship to strengthen on-campus entrepreneurship activities and further build ties with the regional innovation ecosystem. It plans to expand its entrepreneurship programs to accommodate increased demand for on-campus accelerators.
  • Ryerson University will help students grow their for-profit and social ventures. Entrepreneurship zones will be created to support and provide training for as many as 3,000 budding entrepreneurs, including youth in the local community and under-represented groups.
  • Centennial College's Campus-Linked Accelerator is focusing on eight priority neighbourhoods in Toronto. The program is designed for youth who are most in need and hardest to reach, often from diverse backgrounds or those facing multiple barriers.

On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities:

  • The George Brown College program includes education and training, mentorship and work experience with small- and medium-sized enterprises. The program will provide support for emerging entrepreneurs across multiple economic sectors and existing student-led businesses.
  • Humber College will enhance its HumberLaunch accelerator and more than 25 entrepreneurship courses. It will also expand its network of business development support centres in the western GTA to help strengthen regional innovation and economic development.
  • Seneca is launching the Health Entrepreneurship and Lifestyle Innovation Xchange (HELIX). A youth entrepreneurship initiative, HELIX is an opportunity for students and community youth to develop entrepreneurial skills and take their business ideas to the next level.

CLA and OCEA Programs are part of Ontario's Youth Jobs Strategy and are being launched by universities and colleges across the province.

The Youth Jobs Strategy is part of the government's economic plan to help young people to develop the skills needed to launch rewarding careers. Making sure young people can realize their fullest potential is part of the government's plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Almost all postsecondary institutions across Ontario have on-campus entrepreneurship programs (42 out of 44 institutions).
  • Ontario is investing $20 million over two years in the CLA program and $5 million over two years in the OCEA program.
  • OCEA and CLA programs are managed by Ontario Centres of Excellence.
  • MaRS is the partnering Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) with three Toronto-based CLA programs. As a member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), it will act as the conduit between University of Toronto, Ryerson and OCAD and the region’s business community.
  • ventureLAB is the partnering RIC for Centennial and Seneca Colleges. Mississauga’s RIC Centre is partnered with Humber College.
  • Ontario is investing $295 million over two years in the Youth Jobs Strategy to help 30,000 more young people from across the province connect with the tools, experiences and entrepreneurial support they need to find employment or start their own businesses.
  • More than 20,000 job opportunities have been created under the Youth Jobs Strategy.

Additional Resources


“Helping young entrepreneurs is another example of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy at work. These programs will help harness their ideas, their vision and their enthusiasm and turn them into jobs for today and for tomorrow. Their innovative spirit will build Ontario’s future.”

Reza Moridi

Minister of Research and Innovation

“Ontario Centres of Excellence is pleased to be able to deliver these projects as a trusted partner of the Government of Ontario. I look forward to putting our years of experience in connecting academia and industry, and our on-going support of young entrepreneurs in Ontario to good use in making these initiatives a tremendous success.”

Dr. Tom Corr

President and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence

“The OCAD University CLA will build on the excellent achievements of our Imagination Catalyst to accelerate creative and design entrepreneurship. Our mix of social and for-profit enterprises represent the jobs of the future. We are boosting youth employment in Ontario, including for at-risk youth. Through our collaborations, co-curricular learning, and support of student, alumni and other relevant startups we are building a powerful engine for the Ontario economy.”

Dr. Sara Diamond

President & Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University

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