The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) announced that it is launching the Social Enterprise Student Competition to seek student ideas and turn them into social enterprises.
Four winners will be awarded each with a $20,000 prize to further the development of their ventures.
The competition is open to students and recent graduates (three years from graduation) from all faculties of publicly funded Ontario colleges, universities, and hospitals. The first phase involves an open call for preliminary business concepts. These should be submitted by January 7, 2013 in the form of a three minute YouTube video and an e-mailed entry form. Then ten semi-finalists will be selected to move on to the second phase, where they will be paired up with an OCE business mentor to create a business plan which will be pitched to a panel of judges in Toronto, Canada in March 2013.
“In forming new social enterprises, these budding entrepreneurs are coupling the knowledge and skills they’ve gained through academia and prior work and volunteer experiences with their passion to find concrete solutions to the social and environmental challenges facing Ontario,” says Denise Brennan, Manager of OCE’s Social Innovation Program.
This is the second year of the competition. Last year, in a slightly different format, the winner was University of Toronto Civil Engineering PhD candidate Heather Wray, who took the top prize of $25,000 for her business Rooftop Gardens Inc. Her idea transforms unused spaces into centres of urban food production.
“The contest was important for me and other student social entrepreneurs like me for a couple of reasons,” Wray says. ”First of all, the competition provided me with a business mentor and contact with business professionals who helped me polish my business plan and pitch. Secondly the funding essentially allows me to take my idea to market much faster than if I didn’t have those start-up funds.”
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