John Dobson Foundation supports entrepreneurial spirit at Lakehead University

Alyson MacKay leads an information workshop through Ingenuity
Lakehead's Ingenuity Ascend Accelerator program is a 10-week program that provides mentorship, networking, and business development workshops to entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni looking to transform their ideas into tangible realities.

April 16, 2024 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

A $132,000 award from the John Dobson Foundation’s Dobson Entrepreneurship Excellence Project will help Lakehead University train future entrepreneurs through Ingenuity’s Ascend Accelerator program.

With the support of the Dobson Entrepreneurship Excellence Project Award (DEEPA), the Ingenuity incubator space will fund 24 business ideas over the next two years and expand Ascend Accelerator programming to Lakehead’s Orillia Campus.

“The Ascend Accelerator program is one of Ingenuity’s biggest success stories,” said manager Alyson MacKay. “I am beyond excited that we’ll be able to engage students year-round through Ascend Accelerator and support our entrepreneurially-minded students in Orillia – an opportunity we have not had until now.”

Launched in 2020, the Ascend Accelerator program supports entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni who are looking to transition an idea into a business opportunity or accelerate the growth and development of their early-stage start-up.

The program provides entrepreneurs access to mentorship, develops their business knowledge, and creates accountability through milestone goal creation.

“Ascend also delivers seed funding to student entrepreneurs to support business development costs,” explained MacKay.

To date, the program has run three cohorts and supported 12 business ideas, nine of which are still active.

"Lakehead University is fortunate to have the support of the John Dobson Foundation,” stated Dr. Andrew Dean, Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “The Ascend Accelerator program is important to both support and facilitate the growth of our entrepreneurial students. We are excited to see where this year's cohort of participants take their business ideas thanks to the support of this increased funding.”

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