media release

The Next 36 selects two SFU student entrepreneurs for 2015 cohort

January 29, 2015
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Contact:
Gursher Sidhu (Surrey resident), gurshers@sfu.ca
Lauren Watkins (Surrey resident), 604.600.2209, lnw3@sfu.ca
Ross MacDonald-Allan, Beedie School, 778.782.9492; rossm@sfu.ca
Karen Lee, Faculty of Applied Sciences, 778.782.8923, k_lee@sfu.ca
Marianne Meadahl, University Communications, 778.782.9017; Marianne_Meadahl@sfu.ca

Photos: http://at.sfu.ca/TuxJPs

Simon Fraser University undergraduate students Gursher Sidhu and Lauren Watkins have been named to the 2015 cohort of The Next 36, a national initiative aimed at transforming Canada’s most promising post-secondary students into leading entrepreneurs.

They are two of 38 students who earned a spot on The Next 36 at the annual National Selection Weekend held in Toronto earlier this month. A total of 80 finalists from a pool of 630 applicants attended the weekend of interviews, workshops, speakers and idea generation.

“The Next 36 will challenge me to adapt to a rapidly moving environment as well as learn and apply a large amount of knowledge in a very short amount of time,” says Sidhu, a fourth-year student in Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE). “I will be pushed outside my comfort zone and coming out I will be very prepared to handle the obstacles of building and growing a company.”

“I feel honoured to be one of the 38 people chosen,” says Watkins, who is studying entrepreneurship and social innovation at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. “I am working with some extremely smart and talented people. I am very excited to get started on our business and to be able see all the different businesses that grow from The Next 36.”

Over the next seven months, program interns from across the country will build their companies with the support of mentors, a unique academic program and a pool of business advisors.

First working remotely while completing their academic year, they will converge in Toronto again in May to work on their ventures full-time. The Next 36 culminates in mid-August with the Venture Day showcase.

Sidhu and Watkins are no strangers to entrepreneurship.

Sidhu has been pursuing his entrepreneurial endeavours with tech e@sfu. The program brings together third- and fourth-year MSE and entrepreneurship students to develop a market-inspired technological product and then pitch for the funds to take it from bench-top to market.

Between 2010 and 2012, Watkins was the program manager for Banner Bags, an Enactus SFU initiative that collects used city street banners and turns them into reusable bags with the help of students in secondary school sewing classes.

Previous SFU participants to The Next 36 include Chantelle Buffie, also from Beedie, who created FIXO, an application that helps make communication between property managers and tenants easier; Michael Cheng from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, who created Needle HR, a talent acquisition platform; and Jessica Fan, another Beedie student, who developed Penyo Pal, an app that teaches children to speak Mandarin.

The Next 36, Canada’s leading undergraduate entrepreneurship development program, sets out to address Canada’s deficit of high impact entrepreneurship by offering resource-rich education programs to promising young entrepreneurs. The program provides its entrepreneurs with mentorship from some of Canada’s top business leaders, access to funding from venture capitalists, and academic instruction from some of the world’s leading business experts. SFU became an official academic partner of The Next 36 in 2014, solidifying SFU’s reputation as a Canadian leader in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation.

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 almost 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 a leader amongst Canada's comprehensive research universities and is ranked one of the top universities in the world under 50 years of age. With campuses in British Columbia's three largest cities—Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby—SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 30,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.

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

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