media release

Initiative to create more high-tech companies

January 12, 2012

Karen Lee, Faculty of Applied Sciences, 778.782.8923, 604.649.9888 (cell);
Derek Moscato, Beedie school, 778.782.5038;
Lindsay Thom, BC Innovation Council; 604.602.5249;

Simon Fraser University
is launching entrepreneurship@SFU, a new high-tech entrepreneurship initiative, thanks to a $210,000 donation from SFU alumnus Ken Spencer and a matching contribution from the Province of B.C. through the B.C. Innovation Council (BCIC).

The new Ken Spencer Entrepreneur Incubator, a component of the entrepreneurship@SFU initiative in partnership with BCIC, is a competitive academic pathway for third- and fourth-year business and applied sciences students that provides the skills, mentorship and resources to build innovative ideas and develop successful new ventures.

SFU will begin with a pilot initiative in 2012, accepting 20-25 students for each of the next seven years with the goal of producing six potential companies or products annually.

“SFU’s applied science students have a great track record of innovative work, and through the university’s partnership with BCIC and Ken Spencer, graduates will be able to turn their ideas into viable high-tech businesses,” said Moira Stilwell, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Research and Innovation.

“Supporting a vibrant technology sector is part of our BC Jobs Plan – and the students who start their own companies through entrepreneurship@SFU will contribute to the sector’s growth and success.”

SFU students have designed and developed numerous innovative products, such as diagnostic tools to aid in tumor detection, the use of new designs and smart materials to improve helmet safety, and the development of fuel-efficient “smart” tires, just to name a few.

Students will take a variety of courses and have access to mentors, scholarships and a product design studio. They will also produce business plans, design and prototype their products or systems, complete steps to launch a successful business and secure lead customers.

“As an alumnus of the Beedie School and an entrepreneurial trailblazer in British Columbia's technology sector, Ken Spencer embodies the values of our institution,” says Daniel Shapiro, dean of SFU's Beedie School of Business. “The Ken Spencer Entrepreneur Incubator says much about his commitment, and ours, to fostering a dynamic and robust learning environment for aspiring technology entrepreneurs in this province.”

Nimal Rajapakse, dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, says entrepreneurship@SFU offers students “a unique learning experience that will connect them with real-world applications and provide skills for long-term career success.”

“By combining the educational power of the faculties of Applied Sciences and Business, we are committed to further strengthening SFU’s leadership position in technology innovation and entrepreneurship.”

For many years, Ken Spencer, an SFU alumnus and honorary degree recipient, has promoted the entrepreneurial spirit at SFU: “I am pleased to continue to work with SFU and BCIC to engage students at an earlier stage in their education, to ensure they have the resources and mentorship needed to become entrepreneurial in their thinking and strong contributors to B.C.’s high technology sector.”

entrepreneurship@SFU is one of five programs developed by BCIC to launch and grow sustainable technology companies in the province. To learn more visit

About Simon Fraser University

Ranked by respected national surveys as one of Canada’s top three comprehensive universities for almost 20 years, Simon Fraser University offers more than 100 undergraduate major and joint major programs and more than 45 graduate offerings. For more information, visit

About BCIC

BCIC (British Columbia Innovation Council) develops entrepreneurial talent and commercializes technology. BCIC focuses on competitively positioning British Columbia in today's global knowledge economy in order to provide significant employment opportunities and a high standard of living for British Columbians. BCIC is a Crown Agency of the Province of British Columbia. For more information about BCIC, visit or

About Ken Spencer

Ken Spencer has a legacy of supporting entrepreneurs in BC. He is the retired CEO and co-founder of Creo Products. Founded in 1983 with two people, Creo grew from a startup to over 4,500 employees in British Columbia, United States, Europe and Israel. It was BC’s largest high technology company with sales of almost $1 billion. In 2005, Creo was sold to Kodak.

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