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U of C hopes to bolster economy activity with Creative Destruction Lab

By Saima Asad, May 26 2017 —

The University of Calgary is one of three Canadian institutions to adopt the Creative Destruction Lab program this year, alongside Dalhousie University and the University of Montréal. The program was initiated in 2012 by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business. The Haskayne School of Business’ iteration is called Creative Destruction Lab Rockies.

CDL Rockies program director Michael Robinson said the program aims to build economic activity in Canada by connecting scientific and technological ventures with business-savvy mentors. Twenty-five selected applicants will be paired with Haskayne Masters of Business Administration students who will serve as their mentors.

Although the program accepts applicants from all faculties, it focuses on science-based businesses.

“The idea is to reach into the university and find those science researchers that have some great ideas and some technology they’re working on and help them get that technology out of the lab,” Robinson said.

The MBA students will also help applicants interact with investors in their businesses.

“At its core an interaction between these ventures and high potential wealthy individuals basically angel investors will provide mentoring and guidance to these companies and potentially financing as well,” Robinson said.

The investors, known as the G7 fellows, will provide guidance and criticism to applicants, not all of whom will survive the full nine months of the program.

“It’s hard to get in, hard to stay in,” Robinson said.

The ventures will meet with their investors roughly every two months to determine whether or not they will continue in the program.

“At every one of these meetings where the G7 fellows interact with the ventures, at least one company has to be removed from the program,” Robinson said. “If you’re not executing and you’re not working hard and you’re not following up on the things you agreed to follow up on, they’ll say, ‘That’s fine, good luck. You’re not allowed to continue as part of the program.’”

The program’s name pays homage to a near-century-old theory by economist Joseph Schumpeter.

“It’s the idea that society grows and evolves through the process of natural selection. In order to go the next step of evolution or development of technology, you have to destroy what came before it,” Robinson said.

CDL Rockies is accepting applicants until August. The first cohort of projects will begin in November.

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