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July 21, 2021

Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking launches Experience Ventures for students across Canada

New program pairs students with startups and growing companies, supporting their entrepreneurial and real-world skills

The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking at UCalgary has launched a new national work-integrated learning program, Experience Ventures.

The pilot program runs from summer 2021 to winter 2022 with 10 post-secondary partners across the country. The program enables college and university students to make an impact alongside changemakers and entrepreneurs through innovative experiences with growing companies. 

“Entrepreneurial thinking is essential to enriching lives and advancing prosperity in Canada,” said Keri Damen, executive director of the Hunter Hub. “Our goal is to ignite and empower an entrepreneurial mindset in students across Canada to develop the next generation of talent that will build our future. We’re excited about creating opportunities for students to connect with our country’s innovators.”

Support for innovative students

Seeing a gap between post-secondary talent and the local ecosystem, the Hunter Hub developed the program — funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative — in which post-secondary incubators across the country can access bright, eager talent to complete game-changing projects.

The Experience Ventures initiative has three key pillars, benefitting students as well as companies:

  • Become future-ready. Students hone entrepreneurial thinking skills, gain experience and contribute to new technologies, and foster and apply digital skills, all while working alongside real-world innovators.
  • Make an impact. New companies are energized with the next generation of talent, to innovate across disciplines to amplify impact, and design the future through work on cutting-edge projects.
  • Build innovation networks. Experience Ventures grows multi-dimensional innovation networks between students and the innovation community, building the bridge between school and the new world of work.

“The University of Calgary is fulfilling its vision to be the most entrepreneurial university in Canada through innovation initiatives such as Experience Ventures,” said UCalgary President Ed McCauley. “The Hunter Hub is a key central hub for innovation activities at UCalgary and beyond, impacting students across Canada and bringing UCalgary entrepreneurial thinking to the forefront of the Canadian innovation economy.”

Supporting students to seize their futures

Students gain invaluable career skills in a number of opportunities with real impact, with flexible placements across the country, including hack-a-thons, project-based and interdisciplinary work-integrated learning placements, student-in-residence placements, challenges, and more. The goal is to inspire student creativity, resiliency, and future vision, so students can seize their futures with the right skillsets.

For startups and social ventures, identifying the right talent and the right mindset is a priority. Experience Ventures works with companies to create entrepreneurial thinking placements for students from top-ranked colleges and universities.

“Young Canadians can often face challenges as they transition from school to work, and these have only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. “Now more than ever, it is important to encourage inclusive access to education, connections, and experiences that prepare all Canadians for successful careers. As a leader in innovative work-integrated learning, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking at the University of Calgary will help Canadian students gain the relevant, real-life work experience they need to enter the workforce.”

How it works

Students apply for an entrepreneurial thinking placement facilitated by their post-secondary institution, through Experience Ventures, from summer 2021 to winter 2022. Companies then provide in-kind support, such as time, space, or expertise. The companies benefit from having students work on projects at no cost, while students are paid for their time through Experience Ventures at their post-secondary institution.

Both students and companies go through an onboarding process and participate in one of five types of entrepreneurial thinking placements. After they have completed the placement, both students and companies evaluate their experiences to allow the program to continue to better serve both parties in future placements across Canada.

“Experience Ventures is helping our students in the Toronto and York region to become the changemakers of the future,” said David Kwok, associate director of entrepreneurship at York University. “We are proud to work in partnership with the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking to support the exciting work schools are doing to connect innovative companies to student talent in colleges and universities across our region and coast-to-coast.”


To learn more, go to

Experience Ventures is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative.

About the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking

Created with a generous gift from the Hunter Family Foundation in 2017, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking is UCalgary’s community innovation hub that transforms lives and economies through fostering entrepreneurial thinking in students, faculty and the community. Our mission is to create and support game-changing innovators and accelerate their ideas from conception to impact on society.

The Hunter Hub contributes to the University of Calgary’s strategic vision to be the most entrepreneurial university in Canada.