Twenty high-school students from across Canada gathered virtually last week for the 2021 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Entrepreneurship Experience hosted by York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering. Delivered by the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) program, the four-day intensive experience was designed to help engineering and science students develop business skills and entrepreneurial mindsets to help them understand what it takes to launch a startup enterprise.
Held via web conference from Aug. 17 to 20, the experience allowed participating students to meet online with fellow entrepreneurs, network with former BEST graduates and experience the process of transforming their science projects into viable businesses, supported by BEST faculty and resources at York and the Lassonde.
“It has been so rewarding to see our innovators ramp up their aspirations to use their innovations to address important issues,” says Associate Professor Andrew Maxwell, director of the BEST program and Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship at Lassonde. “The experience helps young innovators gain new skills as they develop their ideas through a structured learning journey, benefiting from experienced mentors and access to entrepreneurial tools that help them grow as entrepreneurs while increasing the likelihood of establishing a successful venture.”
Fifteen of the 20 participants were awarded a scholarship to the program through the first virtual Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) held May 17 to 21. Winners were selected based on the their entrepreneurial spirit and their CWSF project’s potential for commercial viability. The remaining five participants were incoming and current York students who were selected by the University.
“The BEST program at Lassonde School of Engineering is one of the most innovative and practical STEM initiatives in the country,” says Reni Barlow, executive director at Youth Science Canada, which puts on the annual CWSF. “Exploring STEM through projects is one thing – bringing them to market is quite another. Our country desperately needs this type of program to help youth develop the competencies and confidence they need to determine the commercial viability of their projects and bring them to market effectively and efficiently. STEM exploration and innovation is at its best when it leads to a tangible impact on the lives of people.”
About the STEM Entrepreneurship Experience
Youth Science Canada and Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology in conjunction with Lassonde’s K2I Academy, offer Canada’s top young innovators an opportunity to develop their science projects into a viable business. The experiential learning approach helps participants learn both the creative problem-solving skills they will need for future career success and how they might personally contribute to generating Canada’s next high-growth technology ventures. For more information, visit bestlassonde.ca.
About Youth Science Canada
Youth Science Canada (YSC) fuels the curiosity of Canadian youth through STEM projects. A registered charity incorporated in 1962, YSC delivers on its mission through national programs such as mySTEMspace, the National STEM Fair Network, Canada-Wide Science Fair, STEM Expo, Team Canada representation at international youth STEM competitions and events, and Smarter Science professional development for teachers. Through these programs, YSC provides direct support to the more than 500,000 students who do STEM projects in any given year. For more information, visit youthscience.ca.