Entrepreneurship Support Programs for Applied Science Alumni: It Begins with an Idea

lean launchpadAs a UBC Applied Science alumna or alumnus who graduated within the past three years, you are eligible for a wide range of UBC technology entrepreneurship support programs. You’ve been out in the working world for a few years now, but maybe can’t shake that idea for a business or social venture that’s been percolating in the back of your mind since your days in the lab. The technology entrepreneurship programs Applied Science leverages on behalf of its staff, students, faculty, and recent alumni can help make your entrepreneurial dream reality. Since UBC is committed to getting the research innovations of its community out into the world, these programs are offered at no charge by entrepreneurship@UBC. The only cost to you is time and commitment.

Pathway to Success

The first step is to register online with entrepreneurship@UBC. You will then be invited to an interview, where the entrepreneurship@UBC staff will assess your idea and identify an appropriate sequence of programs for you. The intent is to take your proposed venture from an idea to a preliminary hypothesis about its marketability, through to customer discovery, a validated business model, startup formation, and company building. Seed funding and startup space are available to selected, promising ventures.

As an Applied Science student, you learned to discard hypotheses that didn’t stand up to testing. As a budding entrepreneur participating in UBC’s technology entrepreneurship programs, you must be prepared to do the same thing—your brilliant idea for a business is going to morph many times as it’s subjected to the reality checks imposed by these rigorous programs. Several key programs are outlined below to give you an idea of their flavour.

Open Office

The Open Office program supports registered ventures in weekly one-on-one meetings with Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and industry experts from targeted sectors. As founder of your new venture, you can receive invaluable mentoring in this program to learn how to navigate the startup environment and avoid making costly mistakes.

Mentors can point you toward government support programs for startups, such as the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP); suggest opportunities for you to expand your entrepreneurial education; and share their personal perspective on the process. Open Office sessions are held weekly, and can be booked online once you have registered with entrepreneurship@UBC.​

Lean LaunchPad Accelerator Program

The Lean LaunchPad (LLP) Accelerator is the signature program offered by entrepreneurship@UBC. Over the course of this five-week program, with one four-hour session per week, selected ventures are paired with volunteer mentors and tasked with transforming their initial business idea into a validated business model by the end of the program. In the initial session, teams brainstorm with their mentors to identify a problem for the solution they have in mind—in the real world, who needs their innovation, or some form of it? In presentations to the group, they receive feedback from entrepreneurship@UBC staff, other mentors, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and their peers. Between sessions, they interview potential customers to identify their needs, and get a clear sense of the ecosystem they inhabit, including influencers and budget officers.

If you are invited to participate in the LLP, you will emerge with the entrepreneurial tools and resources you need to increase your chances of building a successful venture. entrepreneurship@UBC Program Director Blair Simonite explains the process here.

Venture Builder Program

The Lean Launch Pad ideally leads to the Venture Builder Program, which pairs UBC ventures with an experienced Entrepreneur-in-Residence. The goal of this one-year program is to propel qualified ventures toward obtaining seed financing, or achieving a designated key outcome if it is a health venture.

UBC Seed Fund

The Seed Fund provides early investment to selected new ventures who have successfully advanced through the entrepreneurship@UBC company creation pipeline. This early investment helps startups build momentum, so that they are better positioned to secure external investment.

Startup Space

AVADedicated open-concept startup space is available to new ventures in the Graham Lee Innovation Centre, where teams collaborate as they launch their companies. Similar space, complementing office, meeting, project, and maker space, will soon be available in the new UBC HATCH technology incubator being created by the Institute for Computing, Information, and Cognitive Systems (ICICS), in collaboration with the Faculties of Applied Science, Science, Sauder School of Business, entrepreneurship@UBC, and the University-Industry Liaison Office. The 520 m2 facility will be staffed by an Entrepreneur-in-Residence to mentor participating ventures and guide them toward market launch. A full-time technician will provide hands-on support. Having the ventures clustered in close proximity will enable newer ventures to learn from those that are more advanced. Technology-based social ventures are welcomed.

Success Stories

NZ Technologies Inc.

Does a radiologist who is active in the operating room need a better way to manipulate radiological images? It turns out that they do, as UBC ECE alumnus Nima Ziraknejad, founder of the UBC startup company NZ Technologies Inc., discovered by taking part in entrepreneurship@UBC’s programs. 

Awake Labs Inc.

As a robotics and mechatronics student, Mechanical Engineering alumna Andrea Palmer took the New Venture Design course in 2014, which teamed her up with fellow students from engineering, business, and economics to devise a product prototype and develop a business plan. Through the NVD course and speaking with key UBC professors and practitioners, the team decided to develop technology to help people with autism and their caregivers.