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Boston boost for budding entrepreneurs

A recent trip to Boston, organized by the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), provided Jane Shui and other Queen’s students with a fresh perspective on entrepreneurship.

“Attending the various entrepreneurial activities was an amazing, eye-opening opportunity for me,” says Ms. Shui, Com’16, co-chair of Enactus Queen’s, a group that fosters entrepreneurial action to shape a more sustainable world. “Looking at the different methods of human ingenuity and how they make a difference motivates me to think outside of the box and bring renewed ideas to the Queen’s Enactus team.”

[Vibhor Mathur]
Vibhor Mathur, Artsci'17 and co-head of Innovate Queen's, speaks with a University of New Brunswick (UNB) student during the networking event between Queen's Innovation Connector and Pond-Deshpande at UNB. (Photo by James McLellan)

Fifteen students and recent graduates took part in the three-day trip.  The group included participants from the most recent QIC Summer Initiative and representatives from a variety of student groups and campus initiatives.

The focal point of the trip was attending the awards ceremony for the MassChallenge, a global start-up competition and accelerator program that provides entrepreneurs with millions of dollars in cash awards and in-kind support.

While at the awards ceremony, the Queen’s students connected with Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande. He is the co-founder of the Deshpande Foundation, which encourages the use of entrepreneurship and innovation as catalysts for sustainable change in the United States, India and Canada. Dr. Deshpande earned his PhD in electrical engineering from Queen’s.

For Adam Beaudoin, a co-founder of Atria, one of the ventures that won $5,000 at this year’s QICSI pitch competition, the trip will help the company as it looks to expand in the future.

“It was great to get first-hand exposure to entrepreneurial scenes in different hubs,” says Mr. Beaudoin, Kin’15, whose company has developed a mobile app that allows users to raise money for charity through exercise. “Atria is looking to branch out in the near future and Boston would be an incredible place to grow. Meeting members of the start-up community will be very beneficial if we end up in that area.”

During the trip, participants attended a lecture by William Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship. They also took part in an informal networking event with members from the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick. Following that event, the Posh-Deshpande Centre expressed interest in sending students to the 2016 edition of the student-run Queen’s Conference on Business and Technology.

The Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC) builds on existing strengths at Queen’s to give students access to the resources, the networks, and the mentors to help transform the students’ ideas into products and services. A core strength of QIC is its interdisciplinary nature, which provides students from across the university with the opportunity to work in diverse teams to address important problems and identify the solutions that will yield benefits not only for our region, but nationally and globally too.