On February 10, the University of Toronto Mississauga and the Institute for Management and Innovation launched I-CUBE, a campus-linked business accelerator aimed at engaging students and community members with an entrepreneurial spirit and offering space and resources to put their ideas into action.
The initiative will receive $1 million a year from the city of Mississauga for the next 10 years to support the new Innovation Complex.
I-CUBE co-founder and student lead Hazem Danny Al Nakib says that I-CUBE leadership is hoping to seek other opportunities for support in areas of both innovation and development.
Innovation to Commercialization for Entrepreneurs (ICE), a program launched through I-CUBE, will offer a unique, five-month opportunity for selected entrepreneurs to go from the idea stage of a start-up to the creation of a minimum viable product, with the end goal of getting closer to commercialization.
ICE will offer resources catered towards the needs of participants including a mentor, potential funding, and a final Dragons’ Den–style pitch to a panel of judges.
According to Al Nakib, while the current program is not for credit, courses for credit are being developed.
Nico Lacetera, faculty lead for I-CUBE, says that the initiative is unique because it is not stand-alone — it compliments other efforts of the Institute for Management and Innovation.
The space is open to all members of the public.
To apply for the ICE program, the only requirement is that groups have one member below the age of 29.
Al Nakib attributes the successful start of I-CUBE to support from University of Toronto staff and faculty, including Lacetera and Donna Heslin, the staff lead and co-founder of I-CUBE who servers as the assistant director at the Institute for Management and Innovation.
Al Nakib also highlighted the team of students who began work at the end of June 2014 to create and develop the accelerator.
Ahmad Khan, a final-year student whose team was recently accepted to I-CUBE for the ICE program, says the program offers participants the opportunity to learn skills crucial to start-up success. “With the I-CUBE program, we get to learn entrepreneurial skills without getting a formal business degree with the help from mentors, students, and programming,” Khan says.
Central to the conceptualization of I-CUBE was an emphasis on its educational value. According to Lacetera, while not all ventures will be successful, I-CUBE leaders “want the teams to leave with an enhanced baggage of knowledge, independence, and critical thinking.”
“U of T as a whole, along with its surrounding communities, has a tremendously profound entrepreneurial spirit whose potential truly is boundless,” Al Nakib says.