Ontario Centres of Excellence Competition Seeks to Uncover the Next Generation of Socially Conscious Entrepreneurs
Four best ideas to be awarded $20,000 in start-up funding

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 11/19/12 -- The search is on for Ontario's next great socially innovative business ideas.

"Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) is committed to innovation in all its forms," said OCE President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr. "Social entrepreneurship is an area we believe is vitally important to both the people of Ontario and our economy as a whole. We are proud to support new social innovations through our programs and young entrepreneur start-ups through this contest."

Open to students and recent graduates (no more than three years past graduation) from all faculties of publicly-funded Ontario colleges and universities, the Social Enterprise Student Competition is being conducted in two rounds.

The first is an open call for a business concept with a social mission. Applications must be submitted by Jan. 7, 2013 in the form of a three-minute video uploaded to YouTube and an e-mailed entry form. Ten semi-finalists will be selected to move on to the second phase which involves working with an OCE business mentor to create a business plan which will be pitched to a panel of judges in Toronto in March, 2013.

At that event, the top four ideas will be awarded $20,000 each in order to assist in the development of their social enterprises.

"This is an exciting competition that provides young Ontarians the chance to turn their innovative ideas into viable social ventures and have a positive impact on their community and the local economy," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation.

Full contest details are available at http://www.oce-ontario.org/programs/social-innovation-program/social-enterprise-student-competition.

"In forming new social enterprises, these budding entrepreneurs are coupling the knowledge and skills they've gained through academia and prior work and volunteer experiences with their passion to find concrete solutions to the social and environmental challenges facing Ontario," says Denise Brennan, Manager of OCE's Social Innovation Program.

This is the second year for the competition. Last year, in a slightly different format, University of Toronto Civil Engineering PhD candidate Heather Wray took the top prize of $25,000 for her business Rooftop Gardens Inc. The burgeoning start-up strives to transform unused spaces into centres of urban food production. The company develops, sells, and installs modular and customizable gardens to enable vegetable production year-round in urban areas.

Wray is encouraging all students and recent grads with a socially innovative business idea to enter.

"The contest was important for me and other student social entrepreneurs like me for a couple of reasons," Wray says. "First of all, the competition provided me with a business mentor and contact with business professionals who helped me polish my business plan and pitch. Secondly the funding essentially allows me to take my idea to market much faster than if I didn't have those start-up funds."

For further information about the competition or questions about how to enter contact Denise Brennan, Social Innovation Program Manager at denise.brennan@oce-ontario.org.

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. (www.oce-ontario.org)

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. OCE's Centres work in communications and information technology, earth and environmental technologies, energy, materials and manufacturing and photonics. OCE is funded by the government of Ontario and is a key partner in delivering Ontario's innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE). OCE through its Centre of Commercialization of Research (CCR), an initiative supported by the federal government, also acts as a catalyst which allows innovative business to grow and achieve sustainable, commercial success and global competitiveness.

Contacts:
Media contact:
Stuart Green
Manager, Media Relations
416-861-1092 x 1022
stuart.green@oce-ontario.org
www.oce-ontario.org

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