I-CUBE, a new accelerator designed to help student entrepreneurs launch and commercialize new products or services for the market, opened on February 10 in the Innovation Complex.
I-CUBE will offer early-stage business development and commercialization services to students, and will function not only as an economic force but also, as I-CUBE’s faculty lead Professor Nicola Lacetera said, the project is “first and foremost, a learning experience”.
At I-CUBE, students can develop their ideas and have their ideas assessed by local business and innovation leaders and alumni.
At the accelerator, the foundation of a new start-up will be prepared for commercialization.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie also attended the launch along with other notable figures.
The accelerator, housed within the Institute for Management & Innovation, was established with $110,000 of U of T’s $3 million in funding from the province.
The funding came as part of U of T’s partnership with the Ontario Centres of Excellence, which is also a member of Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.
“I want to see students graduate from institutions like UTM and use the Innovation Cube as a launching pad to grow their ideas and their promising careers in Mississauga,” Crombie said at the event.
She also mentioned the upcoming launch of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will connect investors with job creators and is intended to foster entrepreneurial growth. UTM is one of the organizations that will have a seat on the task force.
Moridi, who is also Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, mentioned the development of an entrepreneurial spirit among students as a key component of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy.
Also present at the launch were Tom Corr, president and CEO of OCE, and OCE representative Shantanu Mittal.
Deep Saini, UTM principal and vice-president of U of T, spoke at the launch, saying, “I-CUBE offers our student entrepreneurs the chance to brainstorm, develop viable concepts, and proceed through the early stages of commercialization.”
Harinder Takhar, MPP for Mississauga-Erindale, who previously headed the Ontario Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said that the future growth of business in the province, and especially in Mississauga, will require “new, innovative entrepreneurs”.
Development of the I-CUBE project began last July and continued throughout the summer.
Co-founder of I-CUBE Hazem Danny Al-Nakib, a fourth-year business management specialist and the student director and president of I-CUBE, said, “I was lucky and able to form a team of students from different areas of study at the graduate and undergraduate level to help develop and create a business accelerator.”
Al-Nakib further emphasized how the partnership between faculty, staff, and students has proven one of I-CUBE’s major strengths.
I-CUBE’s major focus, he said, is to provide an opportunity to students for hands-on learning in order to equip them to be future industry and community leaders.
Al-Nakib said that the taskforce involved in the project—which includes faculty, staff, and experienced entrepreneurs—plans to help students either develop prototypes and source funding options, or provide guidance from volunteer mentors from the Mississauga Business Community.
The five-month summer ICE program begins in March.