media release

SFU Innovates engages industry and creates entrepreneurs

New strategic initiative showcases success stories of SFU-fuelled innovation

May 10, 2016


Kurt Heinrich, University Communications, 604-376-5043,

To address Canada’s innovation gap, Simon Fraser University established SFU Innovates, a university-wide strategy that mobilizes research and leverages student ingenuity to benefit the economy and society.

“SFU has one unifying mission: to be Canada’s engaged university,” says SFU’s Vice-President Research, Joy Johnson. “This means ensuring we’re leading the way when it comes to the dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research, and far-reaching community engagement.”

The strategy contains four complementary mechanisms for directing the University’s activities and resources:  industry/community interface; incubation and acceleration; entrepreneurship; and social innovation. Each mechanism is designed to drive SFU’s innovation agenda by forging new connections between researchers and industry, maximizing the economic and social value of research and innovation, and supporting emerging entrepreneurs and innovators at home and abroad.

“Our commitment to being an engaged university inspires us to make the best use of our talents and resources to benefit the communities we serve,” says SFU President Andrew Petter. “This strategy will help harness the knowledge and creativity of our faculty and students to create new economic opportunities and address important social needs.”

SFU Innovates brings a unified approach to the university’s innovation agenda. A new campaign and website will increase awareness within SFU, the broader community and government about SFU’s research strengths and impacts. The strategy also aligns with SFU’s commitments to be a leader in interdisciplinary and experiential learning, so as to enable students to succeed in the knowledge-based economy in Canada and around the world.  


  • SFU VentureLabs, the largest business accelerator in Western Canada, has 30 companies participating, 93 entrepreneurs trained, $6.4 million in revenue earned and 269 jobs created (so far)
  • SFU Venture Connection, Western Canada’s first student incubator, has supported 3,100 participants and 120 early-stage start-ups since 2008
  • SFU is a partner in Zone Startups, the first Canadian-led accelerator in India, as well as in a China-Canada accelerator network connected to leading Chinese universities.     
  • RADIUS, SFU’s social innovation lab and venture incubator, has helped 80 ventures and trained 20 cohorts of entrepreneurial students since it was launched in 2013
  • SFU’s new RBC First Peoples Enterprise Accelerator is already working with First Nations communities to develop innovation and support entrepreneurship
  • SFU’s Co-op Education Program has 8,500 students enrolled, an increase of 27 per cent over the past five years.
  • SFU’s Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program is open to any undergraduate student at SFU, regardless of discipline.
  • SFU earned $117.4 million in research income in 2014/2015 (nearly doubling its research income in the last ten years)
  • SFU’s 4D Labs, the University’s world-class materials science and engineering research facility, has helped to advance nearly 50 companies in the tech sector
  • The Surrey NeuroTech Lab embeds research and development in the clinical environment of Surrey Memorial Hospital to accelerate health care innovation and improve patient care for British Columbians
  • Innovation Boulevard is a partnership founded by SFU, the City of Surrey, and Fraser Health to help BC to become a global leader of healthcare innovation by developing cutting-edge medical technologies


SFU Innovates website:


As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 135,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.



Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.


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