Media Releases

STEM and business education combine to give 450 youth a chance to explore their innovative ideas.

September 27, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Inno­va­tion is essen­tial to Canada’s con­tin­ued pros­per­i­ty. This belief is at the heart of a ground-break­ing edu­ca­tion expe­ri­ence, designed to devel­op the next gen­er­a­tion of busi­ness-savvy, sci­ence-lit­er­ate entre­pre­neurs. The Big Ideas: Cre­ativ­i­ty, Design and Inno­va­tion Camp engaged 450 youth across south­ern Ontario—from Hamil­ton, to Toron­to, to Ottawa—this past sum­mer. The camps were devel­oped and run by the Insti­tute for Com­pet­i­tive­ness and Pros­per­i­ty (ICP), the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to and Actua, a nation­al char­i­ty that engages youth in STEM (sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing and math) edu­ca­tion. The pro­gram pro­vides youth with an in-depth expe­ri­ence in inno­va­tion and robust under­stand­ing of the busi­ness of sci­ence and engi­neer­ing. The cur­ricu­lum fol­lows the core ele­ments of the inno­va­tion process cur­rent­ly taught at the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment.

“It start­ed as a ques­tion. Can we teach a young audi­ence, as young as 10, the core ele­ments of inno­va­tion,” notes Prof. Roger Mar­tin, for­mer Dean of Rot­man School of Man­age­ment and cur­rent Chair of the Insti­tute of Com­pet­i­tive­ness and Pros­per­i­ty. “Now that it is up and run­ning, and we see that these kids are ful­ly engaged, we have an answer. Yes, of course we can.”

Reach­ing youth with trans­for­ma­tion­al enrich­ment expe­ri­ences is noth­ing new for Actua. The nation­al not-for-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion annu­al­ly engages more than 225,000 youth in every cor­ner of the country—regardless of their back­ground, socio-eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion, abil­i­ty or gender—with STEM enrich­ment expe­ri­ences.

“Every young Cana­di­an has an idea and they all have the capac­i­ty to be lead­ers,” says Jen­nifer Flana­gan, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Actua. “By adding a busi­ness lens to the hands-on sci­ence pro­gram­ming we’ve been doing for years, we’re going one step fur­ther towards prepar­ing our youth for the knowl­edge-based econ­o­my and sci­ence-focused work­force of tomor­row.”

Actua mem­bers, locat­ed at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, York Uni­ver­si­ty and McMas­ter Uni­ver­si­ty were instru­men­tal in deliv­er­ing the camp cur­ricu­lum.

The cur­ricu­lum was designed to be both edu­ca­tion­al and fun. “We guide these young aspir­ing entre­pre­neurs as they dis­cov­er empa­thy and need-find­ing on the first day, then ideation and pro­to­typ­ing on the sec­ond, and final­ly, we intro­duce busi­ness strat­e­gy,” explains Prof. Mar­tin on the camp par­tic­i­pants’ five-day jour­ney through design think­ing and inno­va­tion. “Through it all, they build con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty to express cre­ative ideas, they learn to appre­ci­ate feed­back and they become increas­ing­ly inspired to take an idea and turn it into an enter­prise.”

The Big Ideas: Cre­ativ­i­ty, Design and Inno­va­tion Camp was made pos­si­ble through fund­ing pro­vid­ed by the Fed­er­al Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment Agency for South­ern Ontario (Fed­Dev Ontario).

“This is an invest­ment in inno­va­tion and in our youth,” says the Hon­ourable Gary Goodyear, Min­is­ter of State for Fed­Dev Ontario. “Our Gov­ern­ment is pleased to sup­port projects that pro­vide our young peo­ple with the tools they need to reach their potential—in inno­va­tion, in research, in busi­ness, and in STEM careers. They will ensure south­ern Ontario remains com­pet­i­tive and pros­per­ous for years to come.”

All part­ners, along with their fun­der, gath­ered togeth­er, once again, to cel­e­brate the suc­cess of the Big Ideas: Cre­ativ­i­ty, Design and Inno­va­tion Camp on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to cam­pus this morn­ing. Joined by some of the camp’s sum­mer par­tic­i­pants, friends of the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment, Actua, ICP and media were able to expe­ri­ence first-hand the impact the camp has made on these entre­pre­neurs in the mak­ing, inno­va­tors in train­ing.

The Insti­tute for Com­pet­i­tive­ness and Pros­per­i­ty is an inde­pen­dent not-for-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished in 2001 to serve as the research arm of Ontario’s Task Force on Com­pet­i­tive­ness, Pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and Eco­nom­ic Progress. The Insti­tute is sup­port­ed by the Ontario Min­istry of Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment and Inno­va­tion. Work­ing papers pub­lished by the Insti­tute are pri­mar­i­ly intend­ed to inform the work of the Task Force. In addi­tion, they are designed to raise pub­lic aware­ness and stim­u­late debate on a range of issues relat­ed to com­pet­i­tive­ness and pros­per­i­ty. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it

The Rot­man School of Man­age­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is redesign­ing busi­ness edu­ca­tion for the 21st cen­tu­ry with a cur­ricu­lum based on Inte­gra­tive Think­ing. Locat­ed in the world’s most diverse city, the Rot­man School fos­ters a new way to think that enables the design of cre­ative busi­ness solu­tions. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it

Actua is Canada’s lead­ing nation­al sci­ence, engi­neer­ing, tech­nol­o­gy and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) out­reach orga­ni­za­tion for youth. Our award-win­ning mod­el for youth engage­ment has gen­er­at­ed mea­sur­able results in build­ing youth’s con­fi­dence and inter­est in pur­su­ing STEM stud­ies and careers. For more infor­ma­tion vis­it,

Cre­at­ed in 2009, Fed­Dev Ontario sup­ports the south­ern Ontario econ­o­my by build­ing on the region’s strengths and cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for jobs and eco­nom­ic growth. In Bud­get 2013, the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da demon­strat­ed its con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to work­ers, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in south­ern Ontario with the renew­al of Fed­Dev Ontario. Eco­nom­ic Action Plan 2013 pro­vides $920 mil­lion over five years for the Agency, start­ing on April 1, 2014. As part of the renew­al, Fed­Dev Ontario will be allo­cat­ing $200 mil­lion over five years for a new Advanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Fund in Ontario. To learn more, please vis­it or call 1–866- 593‑5505.

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For more infor­ma­tion:

Ken McGuf­fin
Man­ag­er, Media Rela­tions
Rot­man School of Man­age­ment
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Voice 416–946-3818

Fol­low Rot­man on Twit­ter

Watch Rot­man on You Tube