Coast Capital Savings supports expansion of entrepreneurship centre

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

Do you have a brilliant idea that you want to see succeed in the wider community? Help is on its way.

Entrepreneurs at UVic will get valuable assistance to develop promising ideas through a relaunch of the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs (ICE) supported by $450,000 from Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

The renamed Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre (CCSIC) will expand its current offerings and offer new opportunities including providing seed money for new ventures and prototype development, an entrepreneurship scholarship and a co-op term for students so they can work on their own ideas.

“Our mission is the creation and dissemination of knowledge through research, education and knowledge mobilization. Creating an environment that supports innovation and entrepreneurship is an important part of that,” said UVic president Jamie Cassels, who along with Don Coulter, president and CEO of Coast Capital Savings, announced the community funding agreement May 10.

Cassels noted that since its inception, UVic has helped with the creation of over 60 companies, has received almost 900 invention disclosures and filed more than 400 national and international patents.

“With Coast Capital’s support and partnership we will be able to create more opportunities, enhance the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship on Vancouver Island and the province, and extend and amplify our positive social and economic impact.”

More than 250 people attended the announcement that was preceded by a ‘fireside’ chat with entrepreneur Stuart Bowness, founder of MediaCore, and Rasool Rayani, entrepreneur and investor. Mia Maki, assistant teaching professor in the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, moderated the session.

Coulter said Coast Capital Savings was excited to expand its relationship with UVic and to help young people follow their business dreams to success.

“Coast Capital Savings’ partnership with UVic recognizes that young entrepreneurs are not only at the front edge of innovation, but their business success will ultimately result in job creation, economic growth and more financial well-being for all of us.” The funding comes through Coast Capital Saving’s Youth Get It community investment program that encourages entrepreneurial leadership and fosters financial well-being.

The financial commitment over the next three years will enable the centre to

  • provide seed and prototype funding
  • create entrepreneurship scholarships to attract prospective entrepreneurs to the Gustavson School of Business
  • support additional business plan competitions, which helps entrepreneurs develop their ideas with guidance from mentors who are business leaders within the community
  • create invaluable experiential learning opportunities through entrepreneurship co-op terms for students as they work on their ideas and to provide support to social ventures that could not otherwise fund co-op positions

Initiated in 2012 by the Gustavson School of Business, ICE expanded the following year across all disciplines to deepen its support of new ideas and strategies to deal with society’s complex challenges. The centre provides tools, expertise and space on campus to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and includes advisers and mentors from outside the university who provide innovators valuable input and connections.

Since its start, ICE has helped launch more than nine companies, brought 21 clients to the “incubation-stage” and met with more than 750 students, staff, faculty and recent alumni such as Lindsay Goulet.

Goulet knew she had a good idea with her fitness business that gives parents the opportunity to work out alongside their baby, toddler or child. The problem was she didn’t know how to transform her busy small operation into a larger, community-based fitness movement.

Being accepted as a client at ICE helped make her dream come true. “Working with ICE was pivotal,” said Goulet. “When I came to them, I didn’t know where to start.”

Through several meetings that required Goulet to thoroughly consider all aspects of her business and by connecting her with a mentor well suited to her goals, ICE helped launched the aspiring entrepreneur. Since 2014, Hot Mama Health and Fitness has grown to 18 franchise locations in Canada with more locations pending.

Under the new funding agreement, the centre will be able to provide additional attention and resources to develop ideas in their early stages.

The Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre will be part of the Research Partnerships Knowledge Mobilization (RPKM) unit, which is led by Brent Sternig, in the Office of Vice-President Research. RPKM connects UVic faculty and students with a wide range of external partners including industry, government, not-for-profit organizations, other post-secondary institutions, and Indigenous governments and organizations.

“With the centre’s relaunch under Sternig’s direction in RPKM, entrepreneurship, commercialization and partnerships have a common base from which to mobilize knowledge, meet society’s needs for knowledge, and make our region and province more prosperous,” said VP Research David Castle.

About Coast Capital:

Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s largest credit union by membership. A recipient of the 2015 “Outstanding Corporation” Giving Hearts Award, the credit union invested $5 million into local communities in 2015, focusing on empowering and engaging youth. Coast Capital is one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, a member of Canada’s Best Managed Companies Platinum Club, and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. It has 50 branches serving its 532,000 members in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and Okanagan regions of BC. Product innovations include Canada’s first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. To learn more, visit


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Keywords: coast capital, business, entrepreneurship, administrative, industry partnerships

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