Launch party unveils Social Innovation and Venture Creation and Purpose Lab

Two brand new initiatives were unveiled at a launch party held at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus on January 27.

Social Innovation and Venture Creation was formed in response to the disjointed approach the university had taken thus far regarding venture creation, with venture creation opportunities in existence all falling within faculty boundaries.

“It’s an institution-wide push to foster social innovation and venture creation as a core value of the institution. So not just on the Waterloo, it’s multi-campus, and across all departments, across all faculties,” said Karli Ferriolo, fifth-year global studies student and a SIVC student facilitator and liaison. “It’s not housed in an academic department, it is placed under the centre for teaching innovation and excellence, so kind of like a neutral body in the university, so it’s able to foster inter-disciplinary collaboration.”

SIVC’s creation was further prompted by Laurier’s reception of $500,000 from the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, a grant awarded to the university for the purpose of supporting social entrepreneurship and social innovation zones. The core team of SIVC is comprised of faculty, staff and students from across Laurier’s campuses and faculties, each with unique specialisations and connections to social innovation.

Ferriolo, as well as student member Abbas Jeraj, a third-year business student, were chosen last year to attend theAshokaU Conference, which consisted of the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs.

After learning about the social venture opportunities available at other campuses across North America, in particular the presence of innovation zones at various campuses, Ferriolo and Jeraj decided to create the Laurier Purpose Lab.

“For us, we have Launchpad and the Accelerator Centre in the Waterloo Region; so the Accelerator Centre is about pushing things through as fast as they can, Launchpad is all about validating ideas and starting incubating these businesses, then we said where do ideas kind of start,” said Jeraj. “We said that’s the kind of gap we have on campus, so let’s create a space.”

Within the past eight months, the Purpose Lab, a room located on the first floor of DAWB, has been transformed from a classroom to Laurier’s very own innovation zone.The space is available for Laurier community members to book for activities related to social innovation, as well as have office hours held by SIVC student facilitators available to direct students through their network of contacts for help with their prospective projects.

“The student-to-student aspect to things is important. Abbas and I were undergraduate students, we kind of had this crazy idea to say let’s have a physical space on campus, how it happened I have no idea,” said Ferriolo.

“Having SIVC student ambassadors hold office hours on kind of a weekly operational hours basis, we’re able to invite more students in and help them realise their potential to become change makers while they’re still undergraduate students. A lot of the time you go to university, you go to class, you write your exams, you get a diploma, but it’s so much more than that.”


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