Entrepreneurial Spirit: the integrity of uWaterloo’s DNA


Entrepreneurship was the focus of the town hall that took place this past Thursday, March 6, part of a series of mini town halls put forth by the University of Waterloo as an extension of their new strategic plan.

Hosted by president and vice-chancellor of the UW, Feridun Hamdullaphur, the town hall was led by Howard Armitage, founder of the Conrad Centre and special advisor to the president, and featured Bud Walker, special advisor to the provost; Doug Sparkes, associate director of the MBET program at the Conrad Centre; Mike Kirkup, director of VeloCity and the Student Innovation Centre; Geoff Malleck, professor in the department of economics; Sandy Richardson, strategy execution expert and author; and Matt Rendall, an alumnus and CEO of Cleapath Robotics.

The plan seeks not only to secure but to further UW’s spot at the top of its class when it comes to (among other traits) innovation. The plan is built upon the premise of success as a variable dependent on a collective ability to move ideas, concepts, and strategies into action. The eight strategic priorities put forth by the plan represent a combination of pillars integral to UW’s institutional foundation as well as priorities, which seek to distinguish the university from other institutions.

“Our success will be as to how well we can implement our strategic goals,” said Hamdullaphur of the new plan. In building a stronger and more dynamic UW, the structure of the town hall prescribes a participatory role to the UW community in the dialogue.

The town hall brought with it an overarching goal to solidify UW’s leadership role in all forms of entrepreneurship education and practice.  

“The process that has led up to this point has been long, it has been thoughtful, it has been collaborative in nature,” said Armitage during his speech. “At the end of the planning period, Waterloo’s goal is to emerge as one of the world’s top innovation universities … [and] entrepreneurship [will be] one of the themes that differentiates us.”

Leading from a long-standing intellectual property policy that has enabled innovators to control their ideas, UW promotes an innovative culture and puts itself on the front lines, as a global leader at the core of Canada’s both emerging and flourishing entrepreneurial landscape. 

Currently offering a unique graduate degree through the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, UW also manages a rapidly growing enterprise co-op program that combines academic and entrepreneurship work terms. While consistent in its extension of entrepreneurship past classrooms and out of research labs, UW seeks to continue to push past its own boundaries in the redesign of the entrepreneurial landscape.

“Entrepreneurship is one of the fastest growing subjects in today’s undergraduate curriculum,” said Armitage, estimating that over half of post-secondary students see themselves either starting a business or being involved with a startup after their academic university careers.

Primary objectives of the town hall included the enhancement of student opportunities to participate in entrepreneurial activities, the construction of relationships and of generating opportunities with entrepreneurial communities, advancing commercialization of entrepreneurial research and intellectual property, promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship that spans a diverse spectrum from social, political and health needs to environmental and technological ones as well as making entrepreneurship a key element of the Waterloo brand.

Canada boasts a fertile ground for entrepreneurship, one that is fed by UW’s leadership and one that has and will undoubtedly continue to enable the transformative powers beholden by entrepreneurship. Also, the skills imparted through the study of entrepreneurship will strategically poise students to manage, communicate, and create.

A video of the entire town hall can be viewed at http://new.livestream.com/itmsstudio/events/2802645


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