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

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