Carleton boosts startups for students

From SCAN's Print Edition

Carleton University has introduced a new service to students interested in learning about the growing number of technology-based startup companies in the Ottawa area. The university’s StartUps Central lists more CarletonWide-235X59.jpgthan 150 of these burgeoning companies in the fields of communications technology, Internet, optical and semiconductor, software and agri-food/life sciences. Produced by Carleton’s Technology and Research Development Office, the StartUps Central web portal is the brainchild of Luc Lalande, director of the Innovation Transfer Office at Carleton. One of the companies on the StartUp list is Okulus Networks Inc., a wireless tracking firm founded by former Carleton engineering students Vincent Ng aDragoslav Culum in 2003. The pair won a first-place $10,000 award in the university’s third annual venture capital competition with their wireless tracking technology four years ago. They credit the success of commercializing their unique technology, which can track people and valuable electronic devices using tags based on wireless fidelity, to Carleton’s Foundry Program. It is the only program, say Culum and Ng, which encourages prospective entrepreneurs to think more about their ideas.

Considered Carleton’s flagship innovation support program, the Foundry “model” has influenced provincial policy on using university talent, knowledge and ideas that can best be harnessed to create social and economic value for the province. Ontario Centres of Excellence recently awarded the program a $75,000 grant.

“In the beginning of life of any start-up, idea or a technology, it is extremely important and at the same time incredibly difficult to discuss and bounce ideas around in a supportive open and creative manner,” says Culum. “It is a time when entrepreneurs are most easily dismissed.”

The Foundry program’s financial contribution, he says, allows young entrepreneurs to take their ventures to another level. Okulus was able to snowball its initial support from Foundry into a sizeable investment.

The Foundry program, which encourages any member of the university’s faculty and staff as well as students to act on their ideas, “is a prime example of the collaborative approach needed to foster our entrepreneurial spirit and develop sustainable economic growth,” says Jeffrey Dale, president of the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation.

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