Discovery Zones in on Young Entrepreneurs

May 22, 2013

This year's show features more than 80 Ontario companies led by bright young entrepreneurs in the OMERS-sponsored Young Entrepreneurs Zone

University of Waterloo start-up PumpUp will be exhibiting in the Young Entrepreneurs Zone at this year's Discovery conference, along with more than 100 more student- or recent grad-led companies.

Young people emerging from postsecondary institutions today are taking control of their career path right out of the gate, creating their own jobs in unprecedented numbers. Driven by a desire to change the world and make a meaningful personal contribution, these young entrepreneurs are making an impact on the Ontario SME landscape.

This new trend has been evident in the success of Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE’s) Experiential Learning Program (ELP), which launched in 2011, as well as the SmartStart program, launched last year, both aimed at supporting current postsecondary students and recent grads to become the next generation of entrepreneurs. Supporting youth and entrepreneurship has also emerged as a priority for the Province.

Given that OCE’s annual Discovery conference is a showcase of what’s hot and what’s next in innovation, it’s no surprise that this trend of graduating with a degree and a company will be reflected in the show’s programming this year.

The longstanding tradition of student pitch competitions continues, including the student video competition and the ELP competition. But this year, young entrepreneurs are going to take a larger piece of the Discovery pie – and the show floor real estate to go with it.

The Young Entrepreneurs Zone, sponsored by OMERS, will be a section of the Discovery show floor showcasing more than 80 companies affiliated with southern Ontario universities and colleges. Companies like Reebee, a digital mailbox for local ad flyers, from the University of Waterloo and Groupnotes from McMaster, that lets you leave shared sticky notes on top of any webpage on the Internet, and online farmers’ market, FoodStory from Ryerson.

The majority of these companies are from the nine OCE-supported ELP centres representing 12 Ontario colleges and universities, with the balance coming from the SmartStart program. 

“OCE’s work in supporting young entrepreneurs and helping them acquire the business skills they need to build successful companies is extremely valuable,” says Michael Nobrega, Chair of OCE’s Board of Directors and president of OMERS. “This is how we are building the next generation of entrepreneurs and ensuring Ontario will have the vibrant and innovative companies it needs to compete in a global economy.”

OMERS is the Young Entrepreneurs Sponsor at this year’s Discovery. 
To see what the next generation of Ontario entrepreneurs has to offer, register for Discovery.