Premier Kathleen Wynne today announced that the Province of Ontario is investing in Ryerson University through the Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund (SEDF).
The university will receive $500,000 to create and deliver an accelerator program to support Greater Toronto Area social entrepreneurs and their early-stage social ventures.
The 11 organizations receiving funding by the SEDF will provide loans or grants and other supports to early-stage social enterprises, helping them start or grow their businesses. Ryerson’s program is one of the largest, and it is the only university to receive funding.
“Today’s announcement is a major step in supporting those who want to create positive social change to improve the lives of people, communities and cities,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy. “We are excited to be working with the government as champions of social entrepreneurs. Investments by the province such as this have been of enormous help in building and supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in Ontario.”
The Social Enterprise Seed Fund @ Ryerson will promote the development of sustainable and high-potential social enterprises in the GTA. The social ventures will address the UN Millennial goals of poverty alleviation, access to education, access to health, peace and non-violence, sustainability, equity and diversity. The program will also retain a particular focus on youth facing barriers and under-represented groups.
“Entrepreneurs have similar characteristics and use similar processes whether they are pursuing social or economic goals,” said Wendy Cukier, vice president research and innovation at Ryerson University, and leader of the university’s social innovation strategy. “Ryerson is delighted to once again be recognized for its leadership in social entrepreneurship with this competitive grant. Social innovation is a driver of economic growth as well as improving the quality of life and this will advance our efforts to build the innovation ecosystem and to create the next generation of changemakers.”
Ryerson will work closely with Ryerson Futures Inc. and partners such as Social Assets Management, YWCA, Futurepreneur, Ashoka Canada, Toronto Youth Cabinet, Scadding Court, and others to identify participating ventures and reach the broader community. Social entrepreneurs will receive mentorship and financing support, as well as have access to a centralized online hub or ‘map’ of services, programs, and events.
BACKGROUND ON SOCIAL INNOVATION AT RYERSON
Ryerson is one of two Canadian universities invited to join the $8-million Euro global SI-DRIVE research initiative, bringing together researchers and social enterprises in 25 countries.
Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) was recently named one of the top five incubators in the world, fostering more than 170 ventures and creating 1500 jobs. Within the DMZ about 25 per cent of ventures have a social focus.
Ryerson is home to iCUE, which incubates sustainability ventures, and the new SocialVentures Zone, recently established by the Faculty of Arts.
With the largest entrepreneurship program in Canada and more than 300 courses with innovation and entrepreneurship components, Ryerson has embedded innovation and entrepreneurship across its campus.
Ryerson is Canada’s first and only Ashoka Changemaker Campus, becoming part of a global network of universities.
The university is home to many centres and institutes with a focus on social innovation, such as the Diversity Institute, the Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility, the Centre for Global Health and Health Equity and the Centre for Indigenous Governance.
Ryerson was one of the recipients of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s RECODE award to support social innovation research and social enterprise.
Within the Faculty of Community Services, Marilyn Struthers was appointed John C. Eaton Chair in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. More Ryerson social innovation activities can be found at ryerson.ca/socialinnovation.