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SFU Beedie alumnus Charles Chang made his name as the founder of plant-based nutrition company Vega. Charles founded Vega in 2001, initially working from his basement and investing his own savings into the business. Over the course of fifteen years, he grew the company into an iconic lifestyle brand employing over 180 people, with sales of more than $100 million per year, and products sold in over 20,000 stores across North America.
After selling Vega in 2015, Charles founded Lyra Growth Partners, a venture growth equity company that aims to help entrepreneurs succeed, cementing his leadership position in B.C.’s burgeoning entrepreneurship community.
In June 2016, he made a $10 million donation to SFU Beedie to establish a new entrepreneurship institute at the school, the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship. The Institute's activities to support entrepreneurship education include the launch of the Charles Chang Innovation Centre, which was officially opened in September 2016 and offers residences for graduate students and state-of-the-art business incubation facilities, located in downtown Vancouver.
The Innovation Centre also houses RADIUS (Radical Ideas, Useful to Society), SFU Beedie’s social innovation lab and venture incubator, and the Invention to Innovation program, SFU Beedie’s graduate certificate in science and technology commercialization.
The gift also funded the launch of the flagship Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, supported by the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship. This interdisciplinary program allows undergraduate students from any faculty to add innovation and entrepreneurship training to their education.
Charles’s donation has allowed SFU Beedie to take a leadership role in delivering innovation and entrepreneurship education across the university as a whole.
The Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship is an integral part of SFU Innovates, a university-wide strategy that builds on SFU's dynamic culture and seeks to strengthen the university's commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. The Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program is open to all undergraduate students at SFU, and teaches them skills that are increasingly sought after by employers, such as adaptability, creativity and teamwork.