Ken Spencer, BCIC and SFU partner to create more high-tech companies

January 12, 2012
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Surrey, B.C. (January 12, 2012) – Simon Fraser University is launching entrepreneurship@SFU, a new high-tech entrepreneurship initiative, thanks to a $210,000 donation from Dr. Ken Spencer and a matching contribution of $210,000 from the Province of British Columbia 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 upon innovative ideas and develop successful new ventures.

“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 always been innovative product designers, having developed technologies such as diagnostic tools to aid in tumor detection, improved helmet safety using new designs and smart materials and fuel-efficient smart tires, to name a few. The Ken Spencer Entrepreneur Incubator will help students turn ideas like these into companies.

Students will be expected to produce a business plan, design and prototype their product/system, complete steps to launch a successful business and obtain a lead customer. They will also take courses in business, engineering, entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialization and will have access to a mentorship from industry experts, a scholarship award and a new Product Design Studio, established in partnership with BCIC.

The Product Design Studio is a work and meeting space outfitted with design and prototyping equipment including computer and A/V facilities, advanced design software, a rapid prototyping machine and other equipment to help students launch new ventures.

The Ken Spencer Entrepreneur Incubator will contribute to B.C.’s economic development by preparing students to create, build and lead companies, and thereby produce jobs, revenue and intellectual capital. SFU will begin with a pilot initiative in 2012, and moving forward, will accept 20-25 students each year for seven years with the goal of producing six potential companies or products annually.

“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,” said 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.”

“entrepreneurship@SFU offers students a unique learning experience that will connect them with real-world applications and provide skills for long-term career success,” said Nimal Rajapakse, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences. “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 has promoted the entrepreneurial spirit at SFU: “I am pleased to continue to be able 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 upon graduation.”

entrepreneurship@SFU is now one of five entrepreneurship@ programs developed by BCIC to launch and grow sustainable technology companies in the province. To learn more about the Ken Spencer Entrepreneur Incubator and entrepreneurship@SFU, visit website http://entrepreneurship.sfu.ca/.

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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 is named after a famous explorer and known for its pioneering spirit. Spanning many disciplines in eight faculties, SFU offers more than 100 undergraduate major and joint major programs and more than 45 graduate offerings. Mentored by faculty acclaimed for their research and teaching abilities and coached by dedicated advisors and employers in our work integrated learning program, our more than 100,000 graduates enjoy limitless career opportunities. For more information, visit www.sfu.ca.

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 www.bcic.ca or www.twitter.com/bcic.

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. 

For more information about the Ken Spencer Entrepreneur Incubator, an entrepreneurship@SFU initiative, please contact:

Karen Lee
Communications Officer
Faculty of Applied Sciences
Simon Fraser University
Tel.: 778-782-8923
Email: k_lee@sfu.ca

Derek Moscato
Marketing Director
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Tel.: 778-782-5038
Email: derek_moscato@sfu.ca

Lindsay Thom
Media Manager
BCIC
Direct: 604-602-5249
Email: lthom@bcic.ca

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