Engineering graduates who want to experience entrepreneurship in a supported environment, with mentorship and investment opportunities, now have access to a new program at uOttawa.
Alacrity Ottawa is a technology business program created by the University of Ottawa and Wesley Clover, a private global investment management firm. It aims to educate, train and support engineering graduates who are eager to explore entrepreneurship.
What’s unique about Alacrity Ottawa, compared to other entrepreneurship programs on campus, is that it brings in challenges from industry that need to be addressed or solved as services or products.
“When industry needs to solve a particular problem, our engineering graduates can participate in developing the solution. All this while being trained and mentored by industry experts and tech business leaders,” explains Professor Hanan Anis, NSERC chair in entrepreneurial engineering design and faculty coordinator in entrepreneurship and innovation at uOttawa.
If an engineering graduate has an interest in entrepreneurship, but doesn’t have a business idea, they can still get the full start-up experience, from beginning to end. Those students accepted into the Alacrity Ottawa program will learn to develop and launch a new tech business.
The Alacrity Model
Launched in Victoria, B.C. in 2009, Alacrity Canada was the inaugural launch of the Alacrity model. The successfully proven incubator-accelerator model has since been replicated in many cities worldwide, and most recently in Ottawa. Here, the program is facilitated by uOttawa’s new Master in Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (MEED) and the L-SPARK technology accelerator, a well-established business incubator located in Kanata North, affiliated with Westley Clover.
Students from the MEED program who are interested in Alacrity Ottawa will have the opportunity to be hosted at the uOttawa Kanata North campus and intern in Kanata North companies – right in the heart of Canada’s largest tech park.
A focus on MedTech
Alacrity Ottawa’s very first cohort will be focusing on MedTech, a sector around which both uOttawa and L-SPARK have strong industry networks as well as knowledge on the latest trends and current industry needs.
“In the wake of COVID-19, we have witnessed the importance of MedTech and its impact on the rapid innovation in the medical field,” says Veronica Farmer, the director of partnerships and commercialization at uOttawa. “It will only continue to be crucial moving forward, whether through the development of new technology, treatment options or software that ensure secure and effective patient care.”
“For uOttawa engineering students, Alacrity Ottawa adds one more incredible program to uOttawa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem to assist students to become the next-generation of successful entrepreneurs”, adds Farmer. “Alacrity Ottawa will complement uOttawa’s other entrepreneurial initiatives, such as MakerLaunch and Startup or Scaleup Garages.”
Access to a world-class team of industry experts and business mentors
Professor Hanan Anis is the visionary behind the MEED program, which kicks off in September 2021. The idea behind it is simple:
During the first two semesters, students will take a series of courses in engineering design in the context of entrepreneurship. In the third semester, they get to do an internship in the start-up world.
In their second year, students will work on a project that can potentially develop into a company. “Every student will work on starting a company with a bunch of other students,” says Anis. “Some of them will succeed, some of them won’t. That’s all part of the program. It’s very hands-on.”
Some students will already have an idea and will want to run with it. They can register for our Maker Launch program. Those who do not have a concrete project in mind can turn to Alacrity Ottawa and work on a solution to a problem or challenge that is presented to them by industry.
“Not only do you get a master’s degree, but you also get to work with a world-class team of industry experts and business mentors, and you could get a start-up out of it,” she says. “Even if, in the end, you decide not to become an entrepreneur, going through this program will make you much more marketable for any type of job you may want to pursue.”