Dal to lead Nova Scotia team in MIT entrepreneurship accelerator program

- August 10, 2016

The logo for the MIT REAP program.
The logo for the MIT REAP program.

Update, August 31: We've published an additional Q&A article with more information on the REAP program, answering some common questions.

A unique global program run by the world's top-ranked university* is set to help Nova Scotia develop new strategies to address one of the province’s most pressing issues: building a stronger economy.

Dalhousie President Richard Florizone will lead Nova Scotia’s team in a two-year, entrepreneurship-focused program designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help regions achieve economic growth and social progress.

The Nova Scotia team, which consists of nine individuals from various sectors in the province, is one of eight chosen this year from around the world to participate in the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP). In the program, teams of key stakeholders from participating regions work with MIT experts and others in their region to develop custom strategies to address economic challenges.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are crucial to helping Nova Scotia build a brighter economic future,” says Dr. Florizone. “This is an incredible opportunity for Dalhousie to help catalyze that growth by working collaboratively with our regional partners and MIT, a global leader in the field.”

Forging connections in Nova Scotia and beyond

Administered by MIT Sloan Executive Education, the program consists of four four-to-seven-month action-learning cycles. Each cycle begins with a two-to-three day learning session with MIT experts and other participating regions before the team moves on to broader consultations with entrepreneurs, post-secondary institutions, industry, risk capital and governments across the province.

The team will spend the first cycle gathering data about the region and the second creating a detailed action plan, while the third and fourth phases will be devoted to implementing the strategy and creating ongoing initiatives.

The overall goal: to identify Nova Scotia’s comparative advantages and the mechanisms that might help amplify and advance those to create new value and more export-driven ventures in the province.

A first for Canada

Nova Scotia is the first region in Canada to be selected for MIT REAP. The program’s latest cohort includes eight countries and regions, including Iceland, Lima, and Lagos City. Past REAP cohort teams have included Beijing, Southwest Norway, Tokyo, Qatar, Auckland, New Zealand, Moscow and Singapore.

It’s no coincidence that it’s an MIT program attracting such interest. Considered the world’s leading university when it comes to entrepreneurship, MIT has produced more than 26,000 active startup and spinout companies that, combined, generate $2 trillion in annual sales and employ 3.3 million people.

“By participating in MIT REAP with a full team of stakeholders, Nova Scotia will have the chance to improve their local support structures for innovation and entrepreneurship using best practices developed in the MIT ecosystem” says Sarah Jane Maxted, executive director of MIT REAP.

Making an impact

Dalhousie has been striving to enhance its substantial contributions to the province in many respects, including economic development. As Nova Scotia’s leading research-intensive university, Dalhousie accounts for more than 80 per cent of publicly funded R&D in the province and 98 per cent of all industry-sponsored university research.

The initiative is also very closely aligned with the OneNS playbook, which called for universities and the NSCC to act as greater innovation hubs for the province, as they represent one of the province’s greatest competitive advantages.

"I want to congratulate Dalhousie on being chosen to participate in this prestigious program," says Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education for the province. "Dalhousie's economic leadership on this and so many other files is most appreciated."

Dal’s effort in recent years have included new supports for student and faculty led entrepreneurship, working more closely with the broader startup and business community, and, now, leading the province’s MIT REAP contingent.

“Dalhousie is working hard to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the province," says Dr. Florizone. "The MIT REAP program will help us continue to explore ways we can support the economic growth of our region."

Other members of the Nova Scotia REAP team include:

  • Bernie Miller, former N.S. deputy minister of planning, currently partner at McInnes Cooper
  • Chris Huskilson, CEO of Emera
  • Jevon MacDonald, former general manager at Salesforce.com and co-founder and CEO of GoInstant
  • John Knubley, federal deputy minister of innovation, science and economic development
  • John Risley, co-founder of Clearwater Fine Foods
  • Murray Coolican, N.S. deputy minister of business 
  • Patrick Keefe, general partner with startup fund Build Ventures
  • Tracy Kitch, president and CEO of the IWK Health Centre

*QS World University Rankings 2015-16

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