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Unleashing inner entrepreneurship, SFU students Canada’s hope for tomorrow
The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine is launching Changemakers, a new annual list of 50 emerging leaders changing business based on their ideas, accomplishments and impact. Four are from SFU’s Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, having participated in intersectional programs where students unleash their entrepreneurial mindset to make positive impacts. All have participated in Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection, the innovation hub and incubator where participants get unique support for their ideas often going on to create great organizations.
The Globe says, “A global pandemic. Political uncertainty. Climate change. Economic volatility. The challenges facing Canada’s business community are significant. They won’t be solved by ‘business as usual.’ Solving these problems will require people with bold notions. People developing new products, services and ways of doing business. People who know how to turn ideas into impact.” Venture Connection Director, Janice OBriain says, “Becoming a changemaker doesn’t happen overnight. The winners have been on personal entrepreneurial journeys supported through various academic and applied entrepreneurship programs. They’re all multiple award winners. All are breaking down barriers with their optimism and determination to make change. And we’re so proud to support them.”
Introducing the SFU winners of the first annual G&M Changemakers awards:
Benjamin Britton, CSO, Ionomr – Through his PhD in Chemistry at SFU, Ben pursued his passion to advance clean technology and the circular economy with a line of revolutionary ion-exchange materials membrane and polymer solutions used in power sources of carbon free emission vehicles and energy storage for renewable power generation. He completed SFU Beedie’s internationally recognized invention 2 Innovation (i2I) program for entrepreneurial scientists. Ionomr was SFU’s 2016 Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize top winner and received early incubation support through Venture Connection before graduating to the university’s later-stage accelerator, VentureLabs.
Christina Wong, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Employ to Empower - Challenging the way we address poverty and homelessness while creating programs and micro loans to empower members of the Downtown East Side with entrepreneurship. A Psychology alumnus, Christina also got her entrepreneurial start at SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection; she is a multi-year Venture Prize winner and a finalist for the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Award.
Gurmesh Sidhu, Co-founder, Moment Technology – Offering new energy alternatives by extending the life of electric vehicle batteries which are re-purposed after they’ve been removed from cars. The technology creates sustainable energy options where electricity is scarce, such as in remote communities. Gurmesh and his Moment colleagues are Mechatronics alumni, graduates of the Tech e@SFU program, recipients of the Charles Chang entrepreneurship co-op (eCo-op) program, incubator clients of Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection and recent award winners with the Alaska Airline Challenge through the University of Washington.
Rochelle Prasad, Founder, SPARK Foundation – Driven by social purpose to galvanize youth around causes while delivering training and skills. An Arts & Social Sciences student, Rochelle launched her not-for-profit while in high school and chose to transfer to SFU for the Chang Institute eCoop program to which she successfully applied. She and her team have been supported since by Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection. Rochelle is recipient of the Princess Diana Award and the Canada 150 award in leadership and both she and SPARK Foundation are Venture Prize award winners.