Algonquin looks to ignite entrepreneurial spirit with new campus facility

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Tom Pechloff
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The opening of Ignite AC, Algonquin College’s new Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is an exciting day for the college and its future, college president Cheryl Jensen said Thursday.

Algonquin College student association president Sarah Grainger (left) and college president Cheryl Jensen cut the ribbon Feb. 11 to officially open Ignite AC, the college's centre for innovation and entrepreneurship.

“This is an exciting first step,” Ms. Jensen told the group of staff, students and stakeholders gathered for the announcement in the lobby of the college’s C building, just down the hall from the new centre.

“We are in the midst of imagining what this centre could lead to as we think bigger and bigger. Thinking big enough to ensure that every learner, every teacher, every staff member at Algonquin has the skills to articulate their dreams, test their ideas and build their own future.”

In a rapidly changing world, career success is now measured by the ability to move fast and adapt to new realities, Ms. Jensen said.

“We believe the answer lies in instilling an entrepreneurial spirit into every single one of our learners and the people who help them to prepare for the workplace,” she said.

The centre’s purpose is to give students the resources they need to start their business while still attending classes. Open to students and employees, the centre has office and meeting spaces and complements existing entrepreneurial programs already at the college.

Students working out of the space will also get support from Andrew Foti, the Algonquin Student Association’s executive-in-residence, who will help them access the resources they need.

Ignite AC is one part of the Capital Entrepreneurs program, a joint venture with Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, and La Cité collegiale, which is supported by the provincial government’s Campus Linked Accelerators program.

Ms. Jensen said by partnering with the other education facilities and Invest Ottawa, she is confident Algonquin can help Ottawa be the most entrepreneurial city in Canada.

Invest Ottawa CEO Bruce Lazenby said there was never a better time or a better city for students to start their own businesses and encouraged those in attendance to use the resources at the centre as much as possible.

“We generally find there’s two types of entrepreneurs: Those who seek help from everyone they can find, and those who do not succeed,” he said. “You’ve got a great facility here. Take advantage of it.”

For Initial PR, the centre couldn’t come at a better time. The firm, founded by four recent Algonquin graduates, used the launch as an opportunity to announce it was open for business.

“This is precisely what we need at this time to make sure that we’re successful in our career, and successful in today’s economy,” said the firm’s president Bryant McNamara. “The economy requires entrepreneurship to grow and Algonquin has heard that call by offering opportunities just like this.”

The firm will be able to use the centre to meet clients and mentors to make sure it starts off on the right foot.

Initial PR may have already got its first paying client at the event.

“Are you looking for paying customers?” Mr. Lazenby asked, as he gave Mr. McNamara his card.

Organizations: Algonquin Student Association, Capital Entrepreneurs, Carleton University University of Ottawa

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada

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