Government of Canada supports youth entrepreneurship and clean tech at Simon Fraser University

News release

SFU to expand Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program, and establish an aerospace clean tech research facility

July 26, 2019 – Surrey, British Columbia – Western Economic Diversification Canada

Entrepreneurs and innovators at Simon Fraser University (SFU) will benefit from facilities, resources, and training they need to build entrepreneurial mindsets and overcome the most pressing energy challenges of the 21st century.

Today, Randeep Sarai, Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), announced nearly $3 million in funding to SFU for two important initiatives.

Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection (“Venture Connection”) and the Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship (CIE) at SFU deliver training programs to British Columbia’s next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. Through WD’s investment of $1,950,000, Venture Connection will expand its youth entrepreneurship program to underrepresented faculties, ramp up industry engagement to get students working on pressing industry challenges, and transform more academic research into commercial ventures by expanding SFU´s Invention to Innovation (i2I) commercialization program. The funding will also focus on expanding activity in key areas such as health, environmentally sustainable innovation, and creative and digital innovation, as well as increased emphasis on diversity.

WD will also invest $1,046,013 in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE) in conjunction with the School of Sustainable Energy Engineering at SFU to establish an experimental research facility to prototype clean technology solutions for the aerospace industry. The state-of-the-art facility will foster academic-industry partnerships to develop projects like lightweight hydrogen storage and fuel cell power systems for zero-emission, long-range, unmanned aerial vehicles.

These projects support Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, to grow the economy, create high-quality jobs, and provide Canadians with the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly evolving and competitive marketplace. This funding also showcases Canada’s leadership in key emerging industries.


“The jobs of the future depend on our ability to maintain our competitive edge in a fast-paced global economy by adapting to new markets. The Government of Canada is ensuring that research institutions like Simon Fraser University have the resources they need to provide entrepreneurs and innovators with cutting-edge training, facilities, and mentorship opportunities.”

- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Growing a culture of innovation means investing in high quality facilities, supporting cross-sector partnerships, and expanding access to learning opportunities. Today’s investment in two important programs at Simon Fraser University builds on our competitive advantages and will result in game-changing technologies and commercial ventures that benefit all Canadians.”

- Randeep Sarai, Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre

“This funding allows us to catalyze SFU´s growing leadership in unleashing the entrepreneurial mindset and developing the skills, ambitions and interdisciplinary teams required to tackle complex global challenges.”

- Dr. Sarah Lubik, Director of Entrepreneurship, SFU, Exec Director, Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, Beedie School of Business

“Emission reductions in the aerospace sector are a major challenge for the global clean energy transition. Our aim is to contribute new technology for lightweight, highly efficient hydrogen storage and fuel cell systems as a power source for electric aircraft, in close collaboration with innovative Canadian industry partners. We are very grateful for the support provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada which enables prototyping and experimental testing of these new technologies.”

- Erik Kjeang, Canada Research Chair in Fuel Cell Science and Technology Development & Associate Professor, School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, Simon Fraser University School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, Simon Fraser University

Quick facts

  • Since 2008, Venture Connection has helped equip more than 10,000 future leaders and innovators with entrepreneurial skills, mentored over 750 teams, and provided business development services to more than 230 early-stage start-ups.

  • The Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, launched in 2016, has helped over 330 students—representative of every SFU faculty—to develop entrepreneurial skills and attitudes.

  • The new School of Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) is the first of its kind in Western Canada.

Associated links


Ben Stanford
Regional Communications Manager
Western Economic Diversification Canada

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