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Acadia University’s “Launchbox” To Foster Student Entrepreneurship

Young Nova Scotians with good ideas and an interest in starting their own businesses will soon have a chance to connect with mentors, investors, and other supports.

Acadia University, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the provincial government have come together to create a sandbox where students, innovators, and industry can develop and test new ideas that could become businesses in the region’s fastest growing sectors.

Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, and Rob Moore, Minister of State for ACOA, announced the new sandbox site today, August 27.

The Entrepreneur Sandbox will be located at the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre in Wolfville and will focus on developing ideas in areas connected to tidal energy, wine, agri-food, and information communication technology with a focus on data analytics.

At the sandbox, bright minds will have access to business advisory services, mentoring for start-up companies, Acadia research institute staff, and an Innovacorp business development consultant.

“Working with the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre has given me the skills and experience to apply my knowledge in business development and assisted in entrepreneurial programme development, such as an aboriginal youth entrepreneurship camp,” said Cochrane Noseworthy-Smith, a third-year accounting major at Acadia University. “This opportunity has had a huge impact on me personally, giving me valuable experience and a broader understanding of business and entrepreneurship.”

“It has allowed me to give back to the community and build a network that will mean I can stay home after graduation.”

Sandbox activities will include a youth entrepreneurship camp, pitch competitions, a speaker series, and a summer accelerator program for high school and university students. While the focus of the sandbox will be on students, all entrepreneurs will be welcome.

“The Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre has been assisting students and entrepreneurs in the community for many years and is pleased to be able to continue to deliver its programming thanks to the province and ACOA’s assistance,” said Findlay MacRae, executive director, Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre. “We are excited to be able to deliver additional programming through the sandbox initiative and provide targeted programs that will help inspire our entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

The provincial government will provide the sandbox with $150,000, ACOA is contributing $100,000, and Acadia will provide $65,000 in kind.

“Government knows the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to move the province forward,” said Ms. Regan. “This region has a long history and successful record when it comes to innovation. The launch of the Entrepreneur Sandbox at Acadia will help Nova Scotians, and more specifically young Nova Scotians, to create even more successes.”

“The Government of Canada is pleased to support the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre as it continues to work with entrepreneurs and deliver key initiatives such as the APEC Certified Business Counsellor Program and business incubation services,” said Mr. Moore. “The Centre’s new Sandbox Initiative will play a key role in the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region by giving young entrepreneurs an opportunity to create the essential link between research investment and industrial benefit.”