$750,000 donation to expand LaunchPad services

Laurier LaunchPad will be expanding to the Brantford campus. (File photo by: Nick Lachance)

Laurier LaunchPad will be expanding to the Brantford campus. (File photo by: Nick Lachance)

Entrepreneurship at Wilfrid Laurier University is about to get a big boost.

With a $750,000 donation from TD Bank Group—announced on Monday on the Brantford campus—Laurier LaunchPad will be able to expand services in Waterloo and establish a similar program in Brantford.

“It’s building on something that works so well in Waterloo, to expand it in Waterloo and create it in Brantford is just a really positive next step for Laurier entrepreneurship,” said Steve Farlow, the executive director for the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship.

The investment will be made over a period of seven years.

While the Laurier LaunchPad program—hosted at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener—is focused mainly on students and alumni, the Brantford equivalent will be designed to reach out to the broader local population as well.

“It will be adapted to engage the Brantford community, people like the Six Nations council, so targeted toward Aboriginal groups in Brantford and other community youth-based groups in Brantford,” Farlow explained.

The focus on the investment for the Waterloo campus will be expansion of existing programming. Currently, 58 students and alumni are accessing LaunchPad programming. According to Farlow, about half of these are business students.

He continued, “We think we can grow this just because of the demand that’s here in the Waterloo Region now, we think we can double its size with some financial help from the TD and we’re seeking financial support elsewhere.”

Funding will be used to hire more instructors and mentors, as well as to rent and equip space for both campuses.

Likely beginning in September, students at the Laurier Brantford campus will also be able to access a course on entrepreneurship. Newly-appointed academic director for the Schlegel Centre, Stephen Preece, will help to design the Brantford course.

“The plan is to add within the curriculum at Brantford … to expand in the curriculum to Brantford a thoughtful course on entrepreneurship or enterprise creation,” Farlow said. “In the same way we’ve done on the Waterloo campus, where there’s courses in science and music and business and social work now, we want a course targeted to Brantford students in the entrepreneurship process.”

LaunchPad is available for students in all faculties, as well as alumni. It was launched at the Waterloo campus in 2011.

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