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New Zealand and Canada: poles apart but close in entrepreneurial culture

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For the past few months, the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Unleash Space has been fortunate to be the temporary home of visiting professor Dr Claude Laguë, former Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa in Canada and a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Claude was instrumental in uOttawa’s development of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Design (CEED), helping to build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and nurture growing interest in the field among the student body. Following his tenure as Dean, he was appointed a Fulbright Canada Scholar, allowing him to spend eight months visiting four major engineering schools in California – Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis and University of Southern California – to study their entrepreneurship ecosystems.

After returning to uOttawa for a year to integrate some new ideas from California into CEED’s programmes, Claude contacted Professor Rod McNaughton, Academic Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with whom he had crossed paths in Canada, about visiting the Unleash Space.

“I was looking at what other institutions were doing to develop their entrepreneurial ecosystem, as that had been one of my top priorities as Dean and we were interested in continuing to improve on what we were doing at uOttawa,” says Claude.

While there are many differences between New Zealand, Canada and the US, Claude is quick to note that the building blocks of entrepreneurial programmes share a lot of common ground.

“The general ideas, framework and environments are very similar, developed based on best practices. We all started from similar templates and adjusted them according to the specific environments in which we operate. There’s a lot of commonality between what’s done here at the Unleash Space and what we are doing at the University of Ottawa,” he says.

“The main difference in California is that there’s more awareness and interest in entrepreneurship among the students because of the culture of the country. Risk-taking is probably more acceptable in the US than it is in Canada and NZ; that’s a shift in the national culture that needs to happen.”

Throughout Claude’s time in the Unleash Space, a couple of our initiatives have impressed him enough that he’ll be taking them back to the team at CEED. The recent Get Good Done hackathon, which encouraged participants to create ideas to tackle environmental, social and cultural issues in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, is one such idea.

“We have startup weekends and hackathon events, but none have such a strong focus on a topic of interest to younger people because of the implications for the future. It’s a great way to engage with students from different backgrounds and experiences, which is what you have to do to have a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The other thing would be the VentureLab programme, which provides services to students that have been successful in the entrepreneurship competition. I think there’s a lot we can learn from VentureLab in terms of providing support after our competitions, which is really important if you want to ensure that some of these ventures get to the next level.”

As for where entrepreneurship programmes like those offered at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will go from here, Claude sees plenty of room for further growth.

“They are becoming more and more common, not just in universities but in some high schools that are starting to feature entrepreneurial add-on programmes. There’s a growing appetite among the younger generation for a broader education that better prepares them to engage in entrepreneurial careers if they choose to.

“The message we can carry is that university is more than a place where you focus on your studies and your degree, it’s also a life experience. Developing these entrepreneurship skills is going to be useful in later life, no matter what you do.”

New Zealand and Canada: poles apart but close in entrepreneurial culture

Professor Dr Claude Laguë, former Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa.

New Zealand and Canada: poles apart but close in entrepreneurial culture

Professor Dr Claude Laguë, former Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa.

social media

For the past few months, the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Unleash Space has been fortunate to be the temporary home of visiting professor Dr Claude Laguë, former Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa in Canada and a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Claude was instrumental in uOttawa’s development of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Design (CEED), helping to build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and nurture growing interest in the field among the student body. Following his tenure as Dean, he was appointed a Fulbright Canada Scholar, allowing him to spend eight months visiting four major engineering schools in California – Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis and University of Southern California – to study their entrepreneurship ecosystems.

After returning to uOttawa for a year to integrate some new ideas from California into CEED’s programmes, Claude contacted Professor Rod McNaughton, Academic Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with whom he had crossed paths in Canada, about visiting the Unleash Space.

“I was looking at what other institutions were doing to develop their entrepreneurial ecosystem, as that had been one of my top priorities as Dean and we were interested in continuing to improve on what we were doing at uOttawa,” says Claude.

While there are many differences between New Zealand, Canada and the US, Claude is quick to note that the building blocks of entrepreneurial programmes share a lot of common ground.

“The general ideas, framework and environments are very similar, developed based on best practices. We all started from similar templates and adjusted them according to the specific environments in which we operate. There’s a lot of commonality between what’s done here at the Unleash Space and what we are doing at the University of Ottawa,” he says.

“The main difference in California is that there’s more awareness and interest in entrepreneurship among the students because of the culture of the country. Risk-taking is probably more acceptable in the US than it is in Canada and NZ; that’s a shift in the national culture that needs to happen.”

Throughout Claude’s time in the Unleash Space, a couple of our initiatives have impressed him enough that he’ll be taking them back to the team at CEED. The recent Get Good Done hackathon, which encouraged participants to create ideas to tackle environmental, social and cultural issues in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, is one such idea.

“We have startup weekends and hackathon events, but none have such a strong focus on a topic of interest to younger people because of the implications for the future. It’s a great way to engage with students from different backgrounds and experiences, which is what you have to do to have a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The other thing would be the VentureLab programme, which provides services to students that have been successful in the entrepreneurship competition. I think there’s a lot we can learn from VentureLab in terms of providing support after our competitions, which is really important if you want to ensure that some of these ventures get to the next level.”

As for where entrepreneurship programmes like those offered at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will go from here, Claude sees plenty of room for further growth.

“They are becoming more and more common, not just in universities but in some high schools that are starting to feature entrepreneurial add-on programmes. There’s a growing appetite among the younger generation for a broader education that better prepares them to engage in entrepreneurial careers if they choose to.

“The message we can carry is that university is more than a place where you focus on your studies and your degree, it’s also a life experience. Developing these entrepreneurship skills is going to be useful in later life, no matter what you do.”


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