Strategic what?

<em>In this seven-part series, Imprint sits down with the leaders of each theme of UW&rsquo;s strategic plan to learn what the university is working on and why students should pay attention. </em>&nbsp;&nbsp;

Howard Armitage is the special advisor to UW president, Feridun Hamdullahpur, on entrepreneurship and is leading the university&rsquo;s strategic plans on that subject.

Armitage&rsquo;s resume more than qualifies him to advise on the subject &mdash; among other things, he was the founding director of the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre (CBETC) in the faculty of engineering.

&ldquo;The university has a primary goal, which is to be viewed as one of the leading innovation universities literally in the world,&rdquo; said Armitage.

&ldquo;Entrepreneurship is one of the building components of the future of this university,&rdquo; he said. Armitage added that part of their goal is to determine what entrepreneurship will look like in the future.

An intended outcome of the theme is to create more opportunities for students to learn about entrepreneurship in class. Armitage said that while UW is known for fostering start-ups and business ventures, there are few in-class prospects for students to learn and study entrepreneurship.

To begin mitigating this, a new online course &mdash; BET 100: Introduction to Entrepreneurship &mdash; will be offered starting this fall with students in all faculties able to take the class. In the faculty of engineering, there will be an option in entrepreneurship also starting this fall. The university hopes to eventually turn this into a minor by Fall 2015, available campus-wide.

UW has a reputation as a tech hub, but Armitage wants students and the community to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities in fields across the board. Velocity is an ecosystem for software and hardware development, but it&rsquo;s not the only entrepreneurial incubator on campus &mdash; St. Paul&rsquo;s Greenhouse fosters budding social entrepreneurs on campus.

Essentially, UW is looking to get ahead of the curve &mdash; to lead the global education of entrepreneurship. Armitage spoke in depth about UW&rsquo;s tendency to diverge from the norm, therefore setting us apart from other Canadian and international universities. The strategic plan builds off that trend.

Armitage arrived at UW in 1981 to help form the School of Accounting &mdash; the first in Canada. He went on to be director of the School of Accounting before creating the CBETC, which provides students with a master of entrepreneurship, rather than the MBA available at several other universities.

The entrepreneurial goal of the strategic plan is to think big, Armitage said, and then filter those big ideas with education, mentorship, and funding to produce something valuable in terms of an entrepreneurial endeavour.

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just tech, it can be in many, many different ways depending on how you are able to orient some of your work experiences, how you put your minor, your options, [and] your programs together, and the support that you&rsquo;re going to be able to get [will] be second to none,&rdquo; said Armitage.