Supporting Entrepreneurs from the Inside Out
By Neal Lilliott, Manager, startGBC, and Nikki Lusccombe, Corporate and Employee Communications Manager, George Brown College
Admittedly, we entrepreneurial administrators tend to spend a lot of our time working diligently on grooming our external network of partners and community supporters, but fall short when it comes to forging important internal collaborations. At George Brown College, located in the heart of Canada’s economic powerhouse city of Toronto, we pride ourselves on preparing a diverse student population for success in a rapidly changing world. Key to this success is encouraging entrepreneurship across the entire college, be it with our game design, culinary, or construction students. And to do that, we’ve built a strategic approach to strengthening our internal collaborations. If we want our students to succeed, we need to work together across departments, divisions, and those invisible boundaries that can sometimes hold us back.
By working collaboratively together with our academic centers, marketing, communications, and alumni services on the calendar of events and support services offered, we have taken a new approach in working together as a unified community to reach a wider audience and raise awareness of the entrepreneurial mindset on campus. Here’s how:
• The Social Innovation Hub empowers students (who we affectionately call “Hubsters”) to make their social justice solutions come to life and helped in the creation of 77 social enterprises.
• Through Enactus GBC, nearly 200 students are coached by business faculty to develop social entrepreneurship skills on a global platform that helps foster meaningful empowerment projects for local communities. Recently, these students made the college incredibly proud when they brought home a trophy from Enactus Canada Nationals.
• Our Digital Media and Gaming Incubator supports 20 resident start-ups, and is the driving force behind Digifest, a digital media, design and tech conference that attracted more than 400 attendees and almost 100 submissions to its start-up pitch competition.
• startGBC, the college’s student entrepreneur support service, opened a dedicated collaboration space to facilitate entrepreneurial growth and maximize student success. We’ve seen a record number of classroom engagements to promote entrepreneurship as a career path, with 1,781 students attending 38 entrepreneurship events and more than 400 mentor hours clocked to support 68 start-ups.
We’re also happy to see the emergence of the student-led entrepreneurship club with 30 members in its first month, and a record number of 2,115 students participating in entrepreneurial academic programs during our fall and winter semesters. Each year, more than 28,000 new learners join us, and these students get the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship across all nine academic centers, student support services, and student-led extracurricular clubs. We recognize that the college needs to amplify the entrepreneurship opportunities for students. But we can only do that by working collaboratively together for the broader benefit of our students and our community.