Helfand: USC turning an eye toward entrepreneurship

The focus on the Student Entrepreneurship Centre at Western that spun off from BizInc is a great way to provide some profile to an amazing student service. (Centre to facilitate student entrepreneurship, Western News, Sept. 5) Turning BizInc, from its start as a student-funded and student-operated service just four years ago, into a fully funded campus link accelerator using government funding, is nothing short of extraordinary, and the University Students’ Council (USC) is excited for the future of this project.

The work of the USC and the old BizInc team should not go unnoticed, but was not once mentioned in the article.

The USC and Fanshawe Student Union were leaders in bringing a student entrepreneur space to London campus, and we thank the provincial government, Western and Fanshawe for investing so heavily in this idea. Having a Campus Linked Accelerator (CLA) in London is amazing for students and, with the recent funding, we will be able to help more students realize their dreams and gain valuable experience in the working world.

Even still, with all these positives, it is the USC’s role to continue to advocate for students on this matter.

We will address two areas we believe Ian Haase and his team at the Student Entrepreneurship Centre should keep in mind.

First, students’ intellectual property must be protected. Similar to Velocity at the University of Waterloo, students should be able to develop their ideas without the fear the university or Student Entrepreneurship Centre having financial control over them. This is a fundamental issue for the USC that we will continue to advocate for.

Second, any student should be granted access to the services of the Student Entrepreneurship Centre even if they do not fall within the typical campus-linked accelerator formula of science, tech or engineering fields. If a student would like to open up their own bakery, and required support, that student should never be turned away.

Finally, the Student Entrepreneurship Centre is an amazing achievement for the London community as it shows the way various community partners, ranging from postsecondary institutions, all the way to various levels of government, can come together to do what is best for all stakeholders. The USC is ready to stand with its partners on this project to build on the existing reputation of BizInc, and with the new funding the province has provided to create the best campus linked accelerator not only in Ontario, but in the county.

Matt Helfand
President, University Students’ Council