An innovative entrepreneurial program already proven successful at Waterloo's Wilfrid Laurier University campus will be coming to Brantford.
Thanks to a $750,000 donation from TD Bank to the school's burgeoning LaunchPad course, a doubling of the program will see it spread to Laurier's Brantford campus.
"Through this program, Wilfrid Laurier is transforming business education in Canada," said Frank McKenna, deputy chair of TD Bank Group, at Monday's announcement in Brantford.
Laurier Brantford students and alumni from all faculties will soon have access to LaunchPad's support, which can guide them through the process of starting a successful business.
The bulk of TD Bank's donation – $500,000 – will go toward growing the capacity of the Waterloo campus LaunchPad, but the remaining funds – $250,000 – will act as seed money to start the program in Brantford.
LaunchPad students have access to their local entrepreneurship community as well as numerous connections with government and business. They can also access new capital, research, technology and commercialization expertise and support services.
"LaunchPad is a direct way to help our students build and sustain new startups," Laurier president Max Blouw said.
McKenna pointed to the many dignitaries in attendance at Monday's announcement, including Brantford Mayor Chris Friel and Six Nations elected Chief Ava Hill, as a sign that the bank's support is valued.
"It informs us that what we’re doing is important," the former premier of New Brunswick and ambassador to the U.S. said.
LaunchPad in Waterloo now has 58 students and alumni working in teams on 40 new ventures.
With TD Bank's funding, Laurier hopes to double the number of participants over the next two years.
"I think you’ve really got an economic miracle in the making right here," McKenna said.
McKenna said it's important for a university to be more than an academy. It's crucial they also stimulate, energize and give back to the community.
"This university gets it," he said. "It understands its role in the community."
Laurier Brantford's associate director of communications Kevin Klein said the Brantford campus is currently investigating where they want the LaunchPad program to be located.
The plan is to hire someone to run the program this spring, find a location for the program and renovate this summer to offer the first LaunchPad course in entrepreneurship this fall.