News Local

Startup Ottawa Valley launches

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Chris Doré, Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Algonquin College Waterfront Campus, addresses those gathered for the offical launch of Startup Ottawa Valley. The group is a support network for local entrepreneurs that has the backing of Startup Canada, the national voice of entrepreneurs.

Chris Doré, Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Algonquin College Waterfront Campus, addresses those gathered for the offical launch of Startup Ottawa Valley. The group is a support network for local entrepreneurs that has the backing of Startup Canada, the national voice of entrepreneurs.

Startup Canada, Algonquin College and others are working together to spark entrepreneurship within the Ottawa Valley.

All parties helped to launch Startup Ottawa Valley, a support organization with a nationwide reach for those wanting to start up a business, develop that million dollar idea, or those who just need help, resources and encouragement to grow their businesses.

On Thursday afternoon, a roomful of business mentors from across Renfrew County, as well as representatives of Enterprise Renfrew County and Community Futures, school boards, the Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce, the city of Pembroke and others, witnessed the launch of Startup Ottawa Valley, a network for local entrepreneurs that has the backing of Startup Canada, the national voice of entrepreneurs.

The launch took place at The Landing, in Algonquin College Waterfront Campus in Pembroke. The college is a major partner in the enterprise.

Karen Davies, campus dean, said the Startup Ottawa Valley initiative is another example of how the college is leading a renewed effort to bring more entrepreneurial thinking to the Ottawa Valley.

These are exciting times at Algonquin College’s Waterfront Campus, and we are delighted to work with Startup Canada to create Startup Ottawa Valley, the next step in our efforts to turn the Ottawa Valley into a rural hub of entrepreneurship,” she said.

Davies said their college president, Cheryl Jensen, has challenged everyone to ensure students are exposed to entrepreneurialism during their college experience.

We’re doing that, and through our work with Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation, we are also bringing more innovation to the communities we serve,” she said

Davies said they are doing this on many fronts, by first becoming the first regional college campus in the Ontario College network to hire its own Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Chris Doré. It was he who oversaw the creation of the Ottawa Valley Startup.

Next, the college brought in a general education course called The Introduction to Entrepreneurship, which started January 2017. This is being taught by Chela Breckon. This course can be taken by any student at the college, regardless of their program. The course has students enrolled from many programs including Forestry, Outdoor Adventure and Nursing. Davies said it is one example of how the college is trying to integrate entrepreneurial skills into is curriculum.

Other initiatives include the start-up of an entrepreneurial club for students on campus; more applied research projects involving our faculty and students, like the work done by several of our Environmental Technician students at the Muskrat Lake Watershed for the past three years, and; bringing the first Tedx event to Pembroke where people brought forward innovative ideas, demonstrating the creative energy that exists here in Renfrew County.

Startup Ottawa Valley is the latest community to join Startup Canada, a grassroots network of entrepreneurs who are working together to build an environment for entrepreneurship in Canada. It was launched in 2012, following a six month long consultation with entrepreneurs from coast to coast. More than 20,000 took part in town hall meetings nation wide.

Startup Canada co-founder Victoria Lennox, speaking via a video message, said their volunteer group is working on creating the right atmosphere for promoting entrepreneurship within Canada.

Ciprian Szalankiewicz, the other co-founder who was present for the event, said the top issue they gathered from their meetings is how important connectivity and networking is, as well as staying in touch with other entrepreneurs.

Every entrepreneur should have resources to connect up locally, nationally and globally, no matter where they are located,” he said.

Within the different Startup communities, champions – business owners and others with a zest and skill for entrepreneurship, are identified to promote the services and resources that are available through Startup Canada, and to also provide mentorship, networking and support to startup businesses and entrepreneurs.

Doré said Startup Ottawa Valley is really all about helping start ups and entrepreneurs find and learn from each other.

This year, he said they will be working on raising awareness first of all through mentorship programs, launching ignite events to bring groups together to spark ideas and such, and work on bringing entrepreneurial resources into the Ottawa Valley.

SUhler@postmedia.com