Whether in the classroom, or through virtual events, Trent students are putting innovative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit to the test thanks to several new initiatives offered by Cleantech Commons at Trent University and its partners.
“Our goal is to serve as a hub where students, researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs can thrive,” explains Martin Yuill, Cleantech Commons executive director. “We do this by providing a supportive, engaged and connected community in which collaboration between established businesses, academics and entrepreneurial startups drive discovery for a greener future. To achieve this, we are forging partnerships to bring students’ innovations to where they are needed the most– serving local, national, and global needs for green, sustainable solutions.”
Inspiring the sustainability experts of tomorrow
Mr. Yuill recently shared some tips with students in Trent’s M.A. in Sustainability Studies program on how take advantage of the opportunities awaiting them in the clean technology sector. As a guest lecturer for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management course, Mr. Yuill discussed the challenges facing new startup ventures and how to address these; managing the commercialization of your idea for maximum social impact; and the supports available to help budding entrepreneurs along their journey. Many of these value-added support services will be offered through the Trent Enterprise Centre at Cleantech Commons.
“Since Cleantech Commons is working with developing new ventures and fostering entrepreneurship in the cleantech space, there is a natural connection to the Entrepreneurship stream of Trent's Masters in Sustainability Studies program,” says course instructor Trish O'Connor. “Martin is also knowledgeable about social entrepreneurship and has many years of direct experience with incubating and launching new ventures using the Lean Start Up methodology, which I have incorporated into the course.”
Connecting academic research and sustainability efforts
For Mohammad Azraq, a master’s student in the Sustainability Studies program, a key takeaway was the importance of connecting academic research and entrepreneurial sustainability efforts.
“In my research, I am investigating how the City of Peterborough, as it aspires to be the most sustainable city in Ontario, can develop effective strategies that would increase its alignment with SDG targets, mainly SDG 9: Infrastructure and Industrial Innovation and SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities,” Mohammad explains. “On the industrial innovation front, leveraging the presence of post-secondary institutions in the community and their connections to the local innovation ecosystem is critical.”
Fellow student, Malaika Persaud, who is pursuing her Master’s degree at Trent through the Sustainable Guyana Program, also values the important link between academic research and addressing real-world issues through sustainable ventures and how it ties in with her research on developing a natural product from a botanical used traditionally in Guyana that can serve as a valuable resource with medicinal properties.
“Mr. Yuill highlighted valuable lessons such as the importance of keeping true to your vision, being honest with yourself, having a mentor, and getting into the right groups such as entrepreneurial clusters,” she adds. “It was also admirable that he was able to incorporate our research interest into his presentation and speak of his experience.”
Driving discovery for a greener future
In addition to inspiring students in the classroom, Cleantech Commons also offers students a range of opportunities and supports to develop innovative solutions that will achieve meaningful change. Two such opportunities are its ongoing partnerships with the StrikeUP Canada digital conference and Rain It In student competition.
“Rain It In assists students interested in pursuing the development of their climate change solutions by connecting them with resources, mentors and programs,” says Mr. Yuill. “We are also very excited about the opportunities for students to connect with inspiring business leaders through the StrikeUP conference, which is aimed at advancing economic empowerment, building capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem, and providing support for women, and particularly Indigenous women entrepreneurs.”