Media Releases

U of T students finalists in national entrepreneurship program

January 12, 2011

TORONTO, ON – Nine University of Toronto students have been chosen as finalists in a unique national program that aims to transform Canada’s most promising undergraduate students into high-impact entrepreneurs.

The Next 36 – which is a cross between The Rhodes Scholarship and Y-Combinator – aims to increase Canadian prosperity through entrepreneurship. More than 1,300 students applied to take part in the program and nine U of T students are among the 36 finalists from Canadian universities. The group includes social and serial entrepreneurs, academic award winners, campus leaders, accomplished artists, scientists and engineers, and elite athletes.

The program has two parts. The first is a venture challenge in which nine teams of four students each receive $50,000 of support, guidance from industry mentors and business leaders and project development resources to build a business in the mobile environment. The second part is a four-month summer residency at Massey College where students study with internationally acclaimed faculty and prominent Canadian entrepreneurs while continuing to work on their mobile projects.

“The University of Toronto has been thrilled to help support the development of The Next 36 program by an outstanding group of Canadian business leaders and educators,” says U of T President David Naylor. “I also want to congratulate the nine students from our University who will be part of the inaugural group. I wish all 36 participants the very best with their program in the months ahead.”

“The Next 36 is an opportunity to engage with some amazingly talented like-minded peers who are passionate about making an impact,” says Shahed Al-Haque, an Engineering Science student at U of T and a finalist in the program. “It also offers business and entrepreneurial mentorship from some of Canada’s most well-established and impactful business and entrepreneurial leaders. I don’t exaggerate when I say that this is an opportunity of a lifetime, and the experience so far has already been life-changing.”

Other U of T finalists include: David Berkal in Peace and Conflict Studies, Michael Del Balso and Tulika Gupta in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Shane Gu and Saksham Uppal in Engineering Science, Eran Henig in Computer Science and Economics, Ke Li in Commerce and Computer Science and Daniel Rodic in the Rotman Commerce program.

The Next 36 is spearheaded by a founding group of high-profile business leaders, entrepreneurs, and academics.  The four co-founders are Tim Hodgson, Co-Chair, is Special Advisor to the Bank of Canada, previously CEO of Goldman Sachs Canada;  Ajay Agrawal, Peter Munk Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School, is Academic Director; Claudia Hepburn, social entrepreneur and education policy expert, is Executive Director;  Reza Satchu, Co-Chair, is serial entrepreneur, University of Toronto Professor, and winner of the “Top 40 Under 40” award.

An impressive group of founding donors is personally involved with the 36 students and program governance. They include: Nadir Mohamed, W. Galen Weston, Joseph Canavan, John Donald, Samuel Duboc, Charles Field-Marsham, Scott Griffin, Anthony Lacavera, Patrick Meneley, Francis Shen, Kevin Sullivan, Andrew and Valerie Pringle, Mark Wiseman and Marcia Moffat, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, The John Dobson Foundation.  The University of Toronto is the founding academic partner of The Next 36; MaRS is another key partner and Rogers Communications is the first corporate partner.


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University of Toronto Media Relations