The past year has been both a banner year for EPICentre, and its inaugural year, beginning with the grand opening of EPICentre, and closing the year out with the EPIC Holiday Party. This is only a sign of things to come, as EPICentre heads into 2016, with many exciting initiatives on the horizon.

Let's take a look back on this past year, and look forward to next year, as we provide you with a retrospective of 2015 through our news snippets, and reveal some exciting information on what to expect from EPICentre in 2016. 
EPICentre 2015: A Year in Review


EPICentre and the University of Windsor received $1.1 million from the Province of Ontario to support job creation through the Ontario's Campus-Linked Accelerators (CLA) program. The grant is designed to "build on world-class innovation and entrepreneurial programs at the University of Windsor." 

EPICentre encourages young people to start and grow a business through entrepreneurship activities and awareness programs on campus and in the community. The $1.1 million grant will support job creation and economic development opportunities in the region and further develop strong ties to entrepreneurial mentors.


The EPICentre Blue Sky Mixer had a successful start on January 21, 2015 at EPICentre Odette. The Blue Sky annual competition allows students to create and explore their entrepreneurial mind set. Students from different faculties were invited to meet other students on campus during the event and were encouraged to develop multi-disciplinary teams. 

The EPICentre Blue Sky Competition requires that students come up with a solution to a problem. With this solution, they must create a 2-minute video pitch in teams of 2-4 students. These teams must be comprised of students from at least two different areas of study (i.e. 2 business students and 2 computer science students). Prizes for Blue Sky Competition: 1st place = $1500 + trip to OCE Discovery, 2nd place = $750 + trip to OCE Discovery, 3rd place = $500 + trip to OCE Discovery.



Three start-ups have joined EPICentre in the newly opened incubator space of EPICentre in January 2015. The three members are:
  • Biosensive Technologies Inc.
  • MLVC Technologies Inc.
  • CAMufacturing Solutions Inc.


UWill Discover - the first annual University of Windsor Undergraduate Research Conference -took place March 24th, and provided an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to showcase their research in a professional setting before their peers, faculty, and the community.

The Lancers' Lair was a session sponsored by EPICentre, mimicking the television show "Dragons' Den". Entrepreneurial students were asked to submit a proposal on their idea. Once accepted to the Lancers' Lair, they created a 3-minute video pitch. At the conference, each pitch was reviewed by a panel of judges, as well as a live audience. 



Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Discovery brings together key players from industry, academia, government, the investment community as well as entrepreneurs and students to pursue collaboration opportunities. OCE Discovery was hosted at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto on April 27 - 28, 2015.

The University of Windsor Office of Research and Innovation Services and the EPICentre were accompanied by a strong delegation of student and faculty researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs who displayed their projects, start-up ideas and products. The thirteen winners of the UWindsor Blue Sky Competition were also in attendance networking with industry leaders. 

The following UWindsor start-ups were present at OCE Discovery:
Pursue Sports, InQuis, BioSensive, Motorbuddi, CAMufacturing, TBT Innovation, Alternative Fuel Containers LLC, GLIN ECO, ED DEV




Kyle Bassett's (Hon. BEng '09, MEng '10) design of a compact wind turbine that will help deliver power to remote areas of the world, won him the David McFadden Energy Entrepreneur Challenge at the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery Conference this week. The prize includes a $25,000 award.

Post-secondary students from across Ontario submitted  three-minute video pitches of entrepreneurial ideas that have the potential to solve challenges facing the energy sector. Bassett beat out four other finalists from McMaster, York, and Waterloo.

Bassett designed a small wind turbine that takes only a few hours to manufacture using low cost 3D printers. The turbines can be packed compactly, shipped anywhere in the world and can be installed in a couple of minutes.

RMRD Tech's kickstarter campaign has since raised over $40,000 in funding:   https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rmrdtech/a-small-wind-turbine-for-a-big-difference
EPIC Founders Program - May 22, 2015


EPICentre's new 12-week EPIC Founders program offers training to student entrepreneurs and recent graduates on launching a lean start-up business. The program includes funding, mentorship and intensive workshops to help participants take an idea from its birth to a tangible concept or product by the end of July 2015.

EPIC Founders was launched at the beginning of May 2015 with financial support from the Ontario Centres for Excellence and a private donation of money and mentorship from Anchor Danly CEO/president Roy Verstraete. 

The program garnered 30 applicants, who formed 10 teams and pitched their business plans. 
The 12 successful individuals selected for the program, formed the eight teams that will work out of the EPIC Innovation and EPIC Odette focusing on developing their business plans and products. 
Annual Report - July 31, 2015
 


We are proud to publish EPICentre's first annual report!

This report provides a summary on what EPICentre has been up to and the impact it has made on entrepreneurial communities on and off campus between January 2014 and April 2015.

For example, EPICentre has hosted a total of 62 programs in which over 3,000 students took part during that period. Click HERE to view/download the full annual report.




On July 31, 2015, seven start-ups participating in EPICentre's EPIC Founders Program pitched their ideas and demonstrated their prototypes at the EPIC Founders Demo Day to the community. The 12 founders making up these start-ups consisted of students and recent graduates from the University of Windsor and St. Clair College, and made up the first cohort of EPICentre's EPIC Founders Program. This 12-week summer program is designed to provide young entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and tools to turn their ideas into feasible businesses by following the lean startup process.




An athletic recruiting company currently enrolled in EPICentre's incubation program has helped up-and-coming professional soccer players secure US $110 million in international contracts for the new season - all without international tryouts.

Pursue Sports ( www.pursuesports.com), founded by UWindsor alumnus Mike Murad and headquartered at UWindsor's EPIC Innovation, uses a numeric ranking system to rate soccer players. The company offers comprehensive athlete profiles through the analysis of data gathered through a process of rigorous testing.

The process allows athletes interested in international playing contracts to be tested close to home, rather than travelling internationally for team tryouts.

 

The first ever Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Symposium was held on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 at the University of Windsor, CAW Student Centre. 

The symposium was geared towards emerging biotechnology professionals - students with an entrepreneurial interest, future technology trend-setters and scientists who are exploring how to commercialize their discoveries (from bench to market) and existing start-ups aiming for a sustainable future. 

We are pleased to announce that the symposium was an overwhelming success, attended by more than 100 students, staff, and professionals who experienced informative talks from 10 active members of the biotechnology community from across North America.

 

EPICentre is thrilled to announce an $800,000 donation by the Royal Bank of Canada Foundation to support the RBC EPIC Founders. The donation was announced at a press release Tuesday October 13th and will help EPICentre to foster the growing entrepreneurial spirit across the University of Windsor.

The RBC EPIC Founders program is a full time 12 week program from May to August that assists entrepreneurs in developing their business idea. The final outcome being a minimum viable product (MVP). The program holds space for up to 12 businesses, who are paid $6000 to work on their business full-time, giving them the time to focus on the development of their business. 

Throughout the program the businesses work with faculty and industry advisors, and attend workshops to overcome their start up challenges. At the conclusion of the program each business presents all they have accomplished over the 12 weeks to mentors, supporters and potential investors at the EPIC Founders Demo Day.

 
The Cultural Entrepreneurship Workshop was back for its second year over Friday October 23, and Saturday October 24.

This two-day workshop was geared toward University of Windsor/St. Clair College students and local professionals, and teach them about entrepreneurship.  The second annual cultural entrepreneurship workshop was a collaborative effort between the University of Windsor EPICentre, the School of Creative Arts (SOCA), and the Arts Council Windsor Region (ACWR) to provide students with an understanding of entrepreneurship and the skills to help transition to successful careers and grow their current practices.

 

The road map was unveiled during the GEW flag raising ceremony at Windsor City Hall on Monday, November 16th at 9:30am.

GEW is the world's largest celebration of innovators & job creators with over 130 countries participating worldwide.

 

The EPIC Discovery Program is well underway for the Fall 2015 semester! Students have been working with our Entrepreneurs-In-Residence to validate their ideas to prepare them to build their minimum viable products. 

Read about our EIRs here:
 

Entrepreneurs, students, mentors and community members gathered Wednesday December 9th to celebrate at the EPIC Holiday Party. Food and refreshments were served as the group networked and shared their entrepreneurial stories with one another. The event was a great success with over 60 in attendance.


Sneak Peak into 2016

The new year brings many changes to EPICentre, with new additions to the EPIC Team, the conclusion of the pilot EPIC Discovery program, and a new incubator member, King Strategies taking residence in EPIC Innovation. With our recent donation from RBC, expect changes to the EPIC Founders program as we deliver greater value to our aspiring student entrepreneurs with the help of these funds. Alongside the Founder's program, EPICentre will also be hosting an RBC Business Model Canvas (BMC) Competition in Fall 2016.

EPICentre will kick off 2016 with a Startup Mashup on January 19th , and a special event celebrating EPICentre's Year Anniversary on January 20th. Save the date!  Our first Test Your Business Idea Workshop of the new year will take place on January 26th. Looking forward to seeing our students, entrepreneurs, mentors, and community members in the new year!


Wishing you good times, good cheer, and a memorable new year.


All of us at  EPICentre  thank you for your efforts in fostering entrepreneurship within the Windsor-Essex region in 2015.  We hope to see you again in 2016!
Produced by the Entrepreneurship, Practice & Innovation Centre (EPICentre) at the University of Windsor