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NS Government, Dal and NSCAD partner to create IDEA Sandbox

Posted by Media Centre on November 17, 2014 in News

Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD University) and the Government of Nova Scotia have come together to create the Innovative Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) Sandbox, where students, innovators and industry will work together to develop student-led start-ups. Premier Stephen MacNeil announced the IDEA Sandbox on campus today.

Key Points:

  • Located on Dal’s Sexton campus, the new IDEA Sandbox gives young Nova Scotians with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship a space to experiment, learn from their peers, and connect with industry to develop ideas that could become programs, products or even businesses. The Government of Nova Scotia has provided $250,000 towards the sandbox and Dal’s Faculty of Engineering will provide $50,000 per year over three years.

  • The IDEA Sandbox gives students access to marketing, design, business, finance, law, and engineering experts from Dal and NSCAD. It provides students with seminars and mentorship from roughly twenty industry leaders, who all have experience in starting successful businesses.

  • The IDEA Sandbox includes a design and prototyping space where students have access to state-of-the-art design software, a variety of advanced rapid prototyping equipment as well as wood and metal shops to build prototypes and test ideas. In addition, the sandbox provides meeting and ideation space.

  • Andreas Hart, a recent graduate of the mechanical engineering program at Dal, has benefited from IDEA Sandbox initiatives that have already taken place. In his last year of study, he combined his engineering and physics knowledge with his passion for surfing and invented a machine that can shape surfboards. Working with IDEA Sandbox mentors and the Faculty of Engineering, he is taking his technology to the next level and has developed Hart Surf Co., which is currently seeking investment.

  • Dal is a proud member of Nova Scotia’s innovation ecosystem and is working hard to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the province through support for students and local start-ups. Dal now hosts three sandboxes in Nova Scotia. The Information and Communication Technology Sandbox is partnership between Dal, Saint Mary’s University, NSCAD and Volta. The Nova Scotia Agriculture Sandbox is a partnership between Dal and Acadia University.

Pull Quotes:

  • “The sandbox has given me the opportunity to pursue an idea that came straight from my mechanical engineering background but also combined my passions for surfing and design. I’ve also gained valuable business knowledge in such a short time - it’s unbelievable.” -- Andreas Hart, Dalhousie engineering graduate (May, 2014) and Founder of Hart Surf Co..

  • “Encouraging innovation is fundamental to the change Nova Scotia needs. That’s really what sandboxes are all about; bringing the right people together – creative thinkers, mentors, and industry – to invent new ways of doing things.” -- Premier Stephen McNeil, The Government of Nova Scotia.

  • "The IDEA sandbox joins the Dal-hosted sandboxes in ICT and Agriculture as places on campus where future entrepreneurs can thrive and flourish." -- Dr. Richard Florizone, President, Dalhousie University.


Sandbox Announcement
Premier Stephen MacNeil, Dal grad Andreas Hart, Minister Kelly Regan, and Dal President Richard Florizone.
Photo Credit: Danny Abriel
Download Hi-Res image

Dalhousie Links:


  • Nikki Comeau, Communications Officer - Dalhousie Univeristy: +1 (902) 494-4189 /

  • Jennifer Moore, Communications Officer - The Faculty of Engineering, Dalhousie University: +1 (902) 494-3158 /