OCE Program Contributes to Emerging Small Business Boom

October 17, 2012

Experiential Learning Program Paves Way for 281 new SMEs and 325 jobs

Nick May shows off his solid shaving cream product at an Experiential Learning Program event. His business, Remay, launched through the OCE-supported Ottawa Young Entrepreneurs program, is one of 281 small businesses launched to date through OCE's Experiential Learning Program.

At a time when jobs are tough to find, students are increasingly taking matters into their own hands. Instead of waiting around for someone to hire them, these higher education students are harnessing a growing entrepreneurial spirit to start their own businesses. And OCE’s Experiential Learning Program (ELP) is producing solid evidence of that ambition — to the tune of 281 student-made small businesses. 

With OCE funding in 2011/12 of $1.8M (leveraged to $4 million), ELP helps students across Ontario get the training and experience they need to turn their ideas into market-ready products, businesses and jobs. The program links postsecondary students and recent graduates to industry, leading to new innovations and start-ups.

In July 2011, OCE awarded ELP funding to nine programs representing 12 Ontario colleges and universities. Since then, the ELP-funded programs have been creating their own start-up boom. 

From July 2011 to March 2012, 170 projects were funded through ELP, engaging more than 900 young entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs - many of whom are still active students - have launched 281 start-ups, creating 325 jobs and securing $10 million in follow-on investment.  

Interest in entrepreneurship at universities and colleges is clearly on the rise. With academic institutions starting to foster this culture of entrepreneurship, creating your own jobs is now seen as part of the solution and hundreds of small businesses are now emerging from these institutions.

“I have always been a leader,” says recent graduate Mehran Talebinejad who launched his business NeuroQore through ELP-supported program, Ottawa Young Entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is a mindset that allows me to innovate, commercialize and have high impact outcomes, which is thrilling and very fulfilling. The Experiential Learning Program has been indispensable because it’s provided us with the mentoring, guidance, support and connections we need to succeed.”

For many of today’s students, it’s not enough to be handed a university or college degree. They want to graduate with a degree and a company.