Alex Usher calls it the best idea he’s seen all year:
If you’re a UBC student, staff, or faculty member, and want to start a business, you’re eligible for up to $5000 worth of business services (though, in practice, most use far less). And unlike virtually every other entrepreneurship system in Canadian PSE, there are no requirements whatsoever with respect to using UBC technology, nor is there any stipulation that the business be some kind of technology enterprise. Want to open a flower shop? This fund’s for you.
There’s no catch. UBC certainly isn’t interested in equity, for instance. All they want is recognition. All companies that move through the program must display a logo declaring themselves as “UBC-affiliated companies” for a period of five years.
How brilliant is that?
First, it creates a great, dense network between an institution and small businesses in its community (which will no doubt pay off philanthropically, down the road). Second of all, it allows the institution to get a much better handle on the post-graduation activities of its entrepreneurs, and hence allows UBC to highlight its larger role in job creation and innovation in British Columbia. Frankly, UBC could pay for this out of the Government Relations budget, and it would make complete sense — how great will it be to be able to walk into an MLA’s office and rattle off the names of all the new, “UBC-affiliated” businesses that have started-up in his/her riding?
It’ll be interesting to see how this works out in the long run, as $5,000 isn’t enough to establish a business but it can be a helpful amount of money to an otherwise undercapitalized business.