Project Will Help Students Develop, Run Businesses

September 12, 2008 - News Release

University of Guelph students will get the chance to develop and even run their own business through a new project offered in partnership with the Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre (GWBEC) and the Ontario Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services.

Up to 20 third-year students from the Department of Business will participate in a series of workshops and learning modules aimed at developing entrepreneurial skills. They will also develop business plans under the guidance of a GWBEC advisor and U of G faculty member.

The sessions will double as a winter semester course, with the students receiving academic credit based on their performance and business plans. The workshops will be held at the GWBEC in downtown Guelph, and the U of G students will have the same access to resources and advisers as other potential new business owners.

"Our students will get to experience what it's like to be part of an incubator of business ideas within a community," said Prof. Julia Christensen Hughes, chair of the Department of Business.

"They will be working with experienced entrepreneurs and learning side-by-side with local people who are interested in starting their own business. It's truly a creative, community-based learning opportunity and we are delighted to be partnering with the GWBEC in this venture."

GWBEC executive director Judi Riddolls said: "We are pleased to work jointly with the university. This is an applied learning experience that also connects students with other potential business owners in the community. It really encourages the blend of academic and personal entrepreneurship."

Toward the end of the winter semester, students may apply as individuals for $3,000 start-up awards offered by the Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services. Those who receive funding may continue the program for a second semester, using the award to start their business under the guidance of a U of G adviser and a GWBEC mentor.

The ministry has set aside eight awards for U of G students. But students may also compete against other aspiring entrepreneurs in the program for additional awards available through the provincial agency, then continue for a second semester.

At the end of both semesters, students will write a reflective paper detailing their learning experience. They may also participate in discussion groups and give presentations.

"This unique program provides a wonderful opportunity for students interested in starting a new business to develop and get feedback on their business concept," said business professor Fred Pries, who will help oversee the project. "It also provides an opportunity to get some seed financing and actually launch their business."

He added that students will be encouraged to maintain their business operations during their fourth year of study, with the goal of it becoming a full-time occupation following graduation.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982/

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