Sept. 9, 2019

Hunter Hub receives funding to lead women in STEM entrepreneurship program and pitch competition

Building the University of Calgary as a hub for women-led innovation
Women in STEM
Women in STEM

The University of Calgary’s Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking has received grant funding through the federal Research Support Fund’s Incremental Project Grant to build the university’s first women in STEM (science, tech, engineering and mathematics) entrepreneurship program and pitch competition. 

WELab is a female entrepreneurship education and mentorship program, designed to inspire and develop the next generation of women entrepreneurs, leaders and changemakers across diverse disciplines.

The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking’s WELab program is the first of its kind in the university’s history and will serve all female-identifying students, staff, and faculty interested in receiving entrepreneurial mentorship and training.

The goals of the program are to:

  • support women in building business, social enterprise or side hustle in STEM
  • support women to grow an existing business, social enterprise or side hustle in STEM
  • strengthen business or entrepreneurial skills for women entrepreneurs in STEM
  • support participation of women entrepreneurs in traditionally under-represented sectors, specifically women of colour and Indigenous women in STEM
  • support networking and mentorship access for women entrepreneurs and;
  • create awareness of entrepreneurial resources across all disciplines

The WELab program will offer:

  • Mentorship workshops: Beginning in October 2019, WELab will be offering mentorship workshops with experienced entrepreneurs, changemakers and leaders in STEM.
  • WELab Hub, a women entrepreneurship digital incubator: We will be offering a digital incubator to centralize resources, templates, and funding sources for women entrepreneurs and changemakers. The incubator will also offer a digital chat portal for participants to connect with like-minded innovators and mentors. 
  • 2020 WELab Pitch Competition: In Spring 2020, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking will be hosting a women entrepreneurship in STEM pitch competition.

“WELab aligns with the university’s innovation-related strategic priorities and ensures that our students are empowered and equipped to enter competitive STEM fields,” said Joelle Foster, executive director of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. “We are thrilled and honoured to showcase the University and Calgary’s first women in STEM entrepreneurship pitch competition and mentorship program to brand our city as a hub for women-led innovation.”

“We all know innovation is crucial for any community’s socio-economic prosperity,” said Elise Ahenkorah, programs and partnership lead for WELab. “But beyond being innovative, we require an inclusive economy for everyone to contribute to Alberta’s economic diversification. WELab will serve as an asset in equipping talent with the skills and entrepreneurial thinking to support Alberta’s economic diversification and innovation ecosystems.”

WELab’s first mentorship workshop will launch in October 2019. The WELab 2019/20 stream will be focused on STEM. In future years, WELab’s programming will have a different discipline focus to reflect the University of Calgary’s faculty areas.

To stay up to date with the Hunter Hub and WELab’s activities, please register for their newsletter.

About the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking

The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking was created in 2017 with a generous endowment from the Hunter Family Foundation as an interdisciplinary nucleus for activities that will support entrepreneurial student experiences, enable faculty to lead in innovation, and expand a growing community of entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers.

It includes a dedicated space on campus (a collision space) where students, faculty, and staff can gain and share knowledge, build networks, and turn ideas into practical solutions that can benefit society.

Research Support Fund and Incremental Project Grant

The federal government’s Research Support Fund (RSF) assists Canadian post-secondary institutions and their affiliated research hospitals and institutes with the expenses associated with managing the research funded by Tri-Council agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC). The Research Support Fund helps the university create an environment where researchers can focus on their research, collaborate with colleagues, and translate their discoveries and innovations. The Incremental Project Grant is a new stream of the RSF that focuses on innovation and commercialization activities, facilities renewal, information resources, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Read more about how UCalgary uses the Research Support Fund.