COU report finds entrepreneurship thriving at Ontario universities

Entrepreneurship, which economists say is vital to our economic recovery, is thriving at Ontario universities with thousands of students learning how to create their own jobs and jobs for others, according to a report launched today by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

“The art of entrepreneurship is being taught in dozens of programs and hundreds of courses at Ontario universities,” says Max Blouw, COU Chair and President of Wilfrid Laurier University. “This builds tremendous capacity in our students for the benefit of our economy.”

Incubators exist on and off campus to help students learn what it takes to invent the next big thing, attract investors and take their products and services to market. Business acuity is also being introduced into courses over a wide range of disciplines, including the arts.

“Our report is putting a spotlight on the exciting trend toward entrepreneurship at Ontario universities,” says COU President and CEO Bonnie M. Patterson. “It’s also a celebration of all those creative young minds who really are improving lives, transforming the economy and helping people all over the world through social innovation.”

Economists have said economic growth depends on startups and innovation. The U.S.-based Kauffman Foundation, which is devoted to entrepreneurship, recently concluded that any new job growth comes entirely from startup firms. And the recent National Household Survey by Statistics Canada concluded that almost one in 10 Canadians reported earnings from some form of self-employment in 2010.

Ontario universities are providing students with the skills and networks that will help them create their own businesses, and are encouraging business models in areas that will bring positive social change to local communities.

The report was launched today at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone.

Read the report Entrepreneurship at Ontario Universities: Fuelling Success.

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly endorses the entrepreneurial skills being fostered in university incubators, courses and contests because Ontario’s competitiveness and prosperity depends on more of this type of innovation. Entrepreneurial minds make their own employment, create opportunities for others and even change the culture of existing companies with new ideas and approaches.” – Allan O’Dette, President, Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Quick Facts:

  • Young people are creating their own jobs by starting businesses straight out of university. Some 2.6 million Canadians, nearly 10 per cent, reported earnings from some form of self-employment in 2010: latest National Household Survey.
  • Ontario universities are helping students develop entrepreneurship skills, and also a capacity for innovation that will enable them to become “intra-preneurs” – employees who behave like entrepreneurs within the context of a large organization.
  • The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among young Canadians: report by BMO.
  • 46 per cent of Canada’s postsecondary students recently surveyed by Pollara say they see themselves starting a business a year after graduation.
  • More than half a million entrepreneurs created their own jobs in the last year, and it is anticipated that Canadians will increasingly become their own bosses as the global economy continues to recover: CIBC report.
  • The self-employed are more educated than ever – a third have a university degree, which is double the rate seen in 1990: CIBC report.


COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

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