Do you have five or more years of experience in your sector or industry? Have you seen or experienced a business or industry problem or seen an opportunity that is ripe for an innovative solution? Are you willing to commit a few hours a week as a co-founder to help develop a solution? If so, please apply to Solvers.
The objective of Solvers is to match industry experts with entrepreneurial students at Memorial University to create new high-growth startups in the province. Through a solution exploration project, you'll be matched with entrepreneurial students to explore the market potential and develop an initial product or service to address the problem or opportunity you've identified.
With your $5,000 investment, you'll be part of a founding team (along with the entrepreneurial students) and will have an opportunity to leverage an additional contribution through MCE of up to $23,000 in student entrepreneurial work term/internships bursaries and project expenses support. You'll also have access to MCE guidance and facilities during the project.
As it is a competitive process, not all applications will be successful.
Frequently Asked Questions
How did this program originate?
In the fall of 2002, an entrepreneur with decades of senior management and marketing experience (16 years at IBM, four years at Motorola and 14 years as an entrepreneur), reached out to Memorial University to create a research project to develop a commercial solution that would combat financial crime, a gap in the market at that time. A team of 12 students was formed.
Over the course of five months, the team developed a good understanding of the market and a prototype. At the end of the project, Verafin was born.
Solvers combines this model with the experience MCE has gained over the past four years in implementing similar programs such as the Entrepreneurial Externship Program and the Workplace Innovation Program, etc.).
Do I have to be based in Newfoundland and Labrador?
We encourage professionals with ideas from all over the world to apply to the program, and the program is built for remote participation. However, if there is a resulting startup, it must be incorporated in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Any expectations on future ownership?
The Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE) supports startup projects for Memorial University students only. As such, Solvers will only support projects where at least 50 per cent of ownership will be held by the Memorial University students after the project is completed.
What is the entrepreneurial work term and internship program?
It is a semester-long program where each participating Memorial student will be paid $4,500 to work on their own startup idea. .
What financial support will I receive from the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship?
If selected, you will provide $5,000 to the MCE as part of your commitment which will go toward direct project costs. The MCE will then supplement your investment with up to an additional $23,000, allowing for up to $28,000 in project support funding as described below:
- Up to four entrepreneurial work term/internship bursaries ($4,500 each) for selected Memorial students;
- Up to $7,500 for eligible expenses (material, travel, market research, etc.);
- $2,500 if a company commits to becoming a pilot customer for at least six months, the team has an execution plan (milestones and need for funding) and a resulting startup is incorporated in the province with at least 50 per cent owned by Memorial students.
Do you have examples of some business or industry problems that Memorial students have solved?
Yes, check those videos:
- Stephany Schwartz and Joe Teo at HeyOrca;
- Adam Keating at Colab Software;
- Jon King at Milk Moovement.
Any good practices in selecting good problems?
There are many ways to identify business or industry problems. For example, any manual or repetitive process within an organization can be the source of a startup idea. Are people using a complicated spreadsheet in their daily work? Are they using physical forms that could be digital? Are they doing a lot of copying and pasting? Is there an opportunity for automation? What are the consequences if those processes are not done well? (e.g. the company loses money/time/customers/credibility).
Think about any human-intensive process that could be replaced by something more efficient and/or helpful.