Funding the Future: Plans to Help Young Innovators Stand-out

By: Rhea Puri

“Employment for youths aged 15 to 24 was little changed for the third consecutive month” – Statistics Canada, October 2013.

Due to more youths seeking work during this bleak economic time in Canada, the youth unemployment rate has risen 0.5% creating a total of 13.4% unemployed in October of this year. These depressing numbers are pushing more and more millennials into starting their own businesses. However, without the appropriate support, mentorship, and financial help, the possibility of success of a new venture remains low. Therefore, the Canadian Government is investing into a new solution to this problem.

The Government of Canada is making a strong effort to develop the skills and entrepreneurship of youth in Ontario. Numerous organizations are dedicating funding to stimulate youth in real life experiences and projects that enhance their ability to innovate. One example of recent efforts includes a program at MaRS, one of the world’s largest innovation hubs located in Toronto, Ontario. The Government of Ontario has granted MaRS ten million dollars for their five-year mission “Studio Y.”

Studio Y is a full-time eight-month program where 25 high-potential youth from across Ontario will get the incredible opportunity to master their passion. Studio Y welcomes visionaries, builders, techies, rebels, scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs and artists that are between the ages of 18 to 29. Hamoon Ekhtiari, Director of Studio Y, got involved “because the world needs people who will dedicate a lifetime to questioning our fundamental assumptions and finding new solutions for our grandest challenges.” The primary purpose of Studio Y is to have participants contribute to a movement of systems change—MaRS believes they can transform the future with these new leaders. Each participant is given a $20,000 stipend for accommodation costs. Deadlines for their first cohort have closed but applications will re-open in spring of next year. When the second cohort is chosen the program will commence in September of 2014.

Similarly, the Brampton Board of Trade (BBOT) is also challenging youth unemployment conditions of Ontario. BBOT has received a grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation for $145,000 to utilize in creating an entrepreneurial environment for youth. They have consulted Vireo Research to survey youth focus groups and directly understand what locals believe can improve their future opportunities as a working citizen. By doing so, BBOT is including youth in the process from the very start and customizing the program to their relevant aspirations. Organizations see the importance in new generations solving problems of poverty, inequality, poor economy and environmental turmoil. Brampton resident Nikita Brown states, “in order to cultivate a sustainable future, it seems only natural to encourage today’s generation of young people to see social enterprises as realistic and viable ways of supporting themselves financially while simultaneously giving back also.” BBOT is hosting their first public event on November 28th, 2013 for specific information on their initiatives. Brampton is fulfilling the needs of their youth by providing access tools and resources nearby. The wealth of knowledge and help becoming available to youth is astounding. Leaders will change the workforce by creating new businesses, more jobs, and different lines of work. Now, it is up to youth to utilize these instruments of success to turn their ideas into innovations.

For more information and to get involved, please visit Studio Y and BBOT.


Rhea is currently a student at the University of Toronto Mississauga attaining a degree in Communications, Culture, Information and Technology, as well as a certificate from Sheridan in Digital Communications. She has great interest in marketing, the effects of media, and environmentalism. Rhea intends to open a business post-graduation.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal and professional experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.


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