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Open doors, open knowledge

By Melanie Callahan and Kimberley Thornhill

The Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre, a partnership of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the Corner Brook campus of the College of the North Atlantic, held an event recently to celebrate its successes.
The celebration was part of Open Doors, Open Knowledge — a national university open house organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. More than 30 events were held at Canadian universities from Nov. 9-18. Open Doors is an opportunity for universities to showcase how university partnerships are driving innovation in their regions.

This year's theme of the Open Doors program is Putting Ideas to Work for Canadians. There is no better example of this than the work carried out by Navigate, said Dr. Mary Bluechardt, vice-president, Grenfell Campus.

"Navigate is a champion of students, faculty and staff at Grenfell and College of the North Atlantic, enabling them to make an economic impact on the greater Corner Brook area and western Newfoundland," she said. "It's my sense that the alumni of Navigate overwhelmingly contribute their successes to the foundation provided by the centre, whether through assessment tools, business planning, marketing, financing, product development, networking – or simply being listened to as they work out their business ideas – helping them make their ideas become reality. These "navigators" are truly examples of the leaders, inspirers, venturers and energizers that Grenfell Campus is proud to support."

Formerly known as Gateway West, the entrepreneurship centre opened at Grenfell Campus in 2004. The program is designed to address the needs of potential entrepreneurs in the pre-startup phase of business development, and connect those individuals with various resources, programs and agencies that exist to meet their needs. Navigate provides one-on-one and group counselling sessions, business plan mentoring, along with guidance on the resources, programs and services that exist for business startups. Over the past eight years, the Navigate program has played an integral role in the creation of 37 businesses and more than 87 full- and part-time jobs.

Grenfell Campus wasn't the only Memorial campus that participated in the open house. The Marine Institute's Centre for Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) also opened its doors to the community.

CCFI is a not-for-profit organization owned by Memorial University of Newfoundland, led by a board drawn mainly from industry, and funded by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, with additional support from the Maritime provinces' governments. The centre is essentially a portal through which the aquaculture, fish harvesting, and fish processing industries are provided access to the people, knowledge and facilities of academic institutions to take advantage of opportunities and solve problems.

The event featured a number of projects that CCFI has assisted with in recent years including high pressure processing with Ocean Choice International, oyster farming with Badger Bay Farms, the development of a laitram cooker with Allen's Fisheries, sea cucumber processing, energy efficient fishing trawls and a fishing safety video. As well, several clients were on hand to talk about their experience working with the team from CCFI.